Mehluli Sibanda in Harare
Zimbabwe 129 all out 32.4 overs (Musakanda 64, Waller 36*, (Naib 4/27, Khan 3/29)
Afghanistan 126 all out 29.3 overs (Stankzai 34, Shinwari 29, Williams 3/15, Chatara 3/30). Zimbabwe won by three runs
A brilliant bowling display made up for a pathetic batting performance as Zimbabwe staged a sensational comeback to beat Afghanistan by three runs in the third One-Day International at Harare Sports Club yesterday.
It was the lowest ever score that Zimbabwe have successfully defended in an ODI after the 134 they held off to beat England by nine runs in the 1992 Cricket World Cup at Albury.
Yesterday’s triumph left Zimbabwe with a chance of winning the five-match series should they clinch the remaining two matches on Friday and Sunday.
With the series at stake, seamers Tendai Chatara, Christopher Mpofu and left-arm spinner Sean Williams combined to mop up Afghanistan for 126 in 29.3 overs.
Mpofu and Williams’ wickets turned things around, with the latter picking up the last wicket. This was after Zimbabwe had put up a shambolic display with the bat to be removed for 129 in 32.2 overs.
Tarisai Musakanda top scored with a career best 64 batting at number three. He put on 81 runs for the sixth wicket with Malcolm Waller, who was unbeaten on 36.
Afghanistan coach Lalchand Rajput described the defeat as a wake-up call for his team because of poor stroke selection.
“I think that is what cricket teaches you because you cannot take it lightly. We played some bad shots today; I think the batsmen know that it’s a good wake-up call for us because the way we were going, we were cruising. (Then) some loose shots; I must give credit to Zimbabwe, they came back strongly, they never let the game go till the last wicket. I thought the shot selection was not proper,” said Rajput.
He had every reason to be disappointed because such a low score should have been chased with ease. Afghanistan lost their last five wickets for the same number of runs.
Zimbabwe never recovered from losing openers Solomon Mire and Peter Moor cheaply.
It was carnage all round and the fact that the nine extras were the fourth highest contributor to the Zimbabwean innings is proof of the wretched batting display.
Musakanda and Waller brought some stability to the Zimbabwe innings with the sixth-wicket stand.
Requiring 2.6 runs per over, Afghanistan had Noor Ali Zadran removed by Richard Ngarava for a first ball duck following a brilliant one-handed catch by Cremer.
Shahzad smashed 20 from 17 balls until he attempted a big shot off Chatara which was caught superbly by Musakanda at deep mid wicket.
Rahmat Shah was the third Afghan batsman to go when he was caught at point by Mire for Chatara’s second wicket.
When the lunch break was taken, Afghanistan were on 63 for three from 13 overs, still needing 67 runs to win with seven wickets in hand. Chatara picked up his third wicket when he had Asghar Stanikzai caught behind by Moor for 31 runs. Afghanistan then went on to lose Gulbadin Naib, Samiullah Shenwari, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan in quick succession, as their innings fell apart.
Amir Hamza squeezed through two runs off Williams, but the bowler had the final say, with Ngarava taking the catch to spark wild scenes of celebrations. Williams and Chatara shared the man of the match award for their bowling display. – @Mdawini_29