ABU DHABI: Opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz smashed a fiery half century to anchor Afghanistan’s convincing 48-run win over Zimbabwe in the first Twenty20 International in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.
The dashing right-hander cracked seven towering sixes and six boundaries in his dominating 45-ball 87 to steer Afghanistan to an imperious 198-5 in 20 overs after they won the toss and batted at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium.
Ace spinner Rashid Khan (3-28), Karim Janat (2-14) and Fareed Ahmad (2-31) then restricted Zimbabwe to 150-7 in their 20 overs to give Afghanistan a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
The second match is on Friday and the third on Saturday, both also in Abu Dhabi.
It was Rahmanullah who gave the cavalier Afghanistan the robust start of 80 in just eight overs and continued after Janat (26) fell, adding another 74 for the second wicket with skipper Asghar Afghan who made a 38-ball 55.
Asghar hit six boundaries and two sixes.
Rahmanullah holed out to leg-spinner Ryan Burl while Asghar fell to pacer Blessing Muzarabani in the final over as Afghanistan added 42 in the last five overs.
Muzarabani was the pick of Zimbabwe bowlers with 2-38 while Richard Ngarava took 2-43.
Asghar hailed the team’s spirit.
“The first game of the series is very important,” said Asghar. “If you win, the morale is high. Rahmanullah and Janat partnership was good. Then bowlers were very good.”
Zimbabwe were also off the track rapidly, putting 38 by 4.5 overs but then lost wickets at regular intervals to lose the momentum required for the big chase.
Opener Tinashe Kamunhukamwe scored a quick 37-ball 44 with four boundaries while Sikandar Raza and skipper Sean Williams made 22 each which were not enough.
This was Afghanistan’s ninth win in 10 Twenty20 Internationals against Zimbabwe, with just one defeat.
Rahmanullah Gurbaz c Tiripano b Burl 87
Karim Janat c Mutumbami b Ngarava 26
Asghar Afghan c Sikandar b Muzarabani 55
Mohammad Nabi c Mavuta b Ngarava 7
Rashid Khan c Mutumbami b Muzarabani 7
Najibullah Zadran not out 0
Usman Ghani not out 0
EXTRAS (LB-4, W-12) 16
TOTAL (for five wkts, 20 overs) 198
FALL OF WKTS: 1-80, 2-154, 3-185, 4-192, 5-198.
DID NOT BAT: Hashmatullah Shahidi, Amir Hamza, Naveen-ul-Haq, Fareed Ahmad.
BOWLING: Sikandar Raza 2-0-16-0; Ngarava 4-0-43-2 (4w); Muzarabani 4-0-38-2 (1w); Tiripano 4-0-46-0 (4w); Williams 1-0-14-0; Mavuta 2-0-13-0 (2w); Burl 3-0-24-1.
T.S. Kamunhukamwe b Rashid 44
T.K. Musakanda c sub b Fareed 18
S.C. Williams c Hashmatullah b Karim 22
Sikandar Raza c sub b Fareed 22
R.P. Burl b Karim 2
R, Mutumbami b Rashid 15
W. Madhevere lbw b Rashid 2
D.T. Tiripano not out 6
B.A. Mavuta not out 10
EXTRAS (B-4, LB-3, W-2) 9
TOTAL (for seven wkts, 20 overs) 150
FALL OF WKTS: 1-38, 2-83, 3-106, 4-111, 5-124, 5-133, 7-134.
DID NOT BAT: B. Muzarabani, R. Ngarava.
BOWLING: Naveen-ul-Haq 3-0-27-0; Amir Hamza 3-0-19-0; Fareed Ahmed 4-0-31-2 (1w); Mohammad Nabi 2-0-24-0; Karim Janat 4-0-14-2; Rashid Khan 4-0-28-3 (1w).
RESULT: Afghanistan won by 48 runs to lead three-match series 1-0.
UMPIRES: Izatullah Safi (Afghanistan) and Aleem Dar (Pakistan).
TV UMPIRE: Ahmed Shah Pakteen (Afghanistan).
MATCH REFEREE: R.S. Madugalle (Sri Lanka).
MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: Rahmanullah Gurbaz.
NEXT MATCH: Abu Dhabi, Friday (3:00pm PST).
Published in Dawn, March 18th, 2021