By Mehluli Sibanda
Afghanistan 253-9 50 overs (Shah 50, Nabi 48, Mpofu 3-46, Ngarava 2/-7) beat Zimbabwe 54 all out 13.5 overs (Cremer 14*, Nabi 3-14, Hamza 3-20) by 106 runs (Duckworth/Lewis method) AN awful batting display by Zimbabwe saw them suffer a humiliating third One Day International cricket defeat to Afghanistan, going down by 106 runs in a rain affected fifth and final ODI at Harare Sports Club yesterday which saw the visitors take the series 3-2.
Pathetic bowling coupled with wayward fielding had seen Zimbabwe concede 250 and the batting was even worse, skipper Graeme Cremer the highest contributor with an unbeaten 14 runs as his side was shot out for 54 in 13.5 overs.
Heavy rain had resulted in Zimbabwe’s target being revised to 161 in 22 overs.
The huge number of fans who turned up had not anticipated what was about to unfold with Zimbabwe bowled out for their lowest ever score against Afghanistan, after the 82 they made in pursuit of 131 in the United Arab Emirates in December 2015.
The fans had been given lots of hope by the back to back victories Zimbabwe recorded to come from two nil down to level the series but they were left disappointed after yesterday’s display, with some finding their way out of the ground early as they could not stand the humiliation.
Man of the match Rahat Shah top scored for Afghanistan with 50, followed by 48 from Mohammad Nabi. Lanky pace bowler, Christopher Mpofu was outstanding with three wickets for 46 runs while left arm seamer Richard Ngarava had two for 37 in seven overs with one wicket each for slow bowlers, Cremer and Sean Williams.
Requiring 7.3 runs per over, Zimbabwe were in trouble in the second over, Moor removed by Dawlat Zadran, taken at point by Noor Ali Zadran. His opening partner Solomon Mire followed in the next over, charging down left arm spinner Amir Hamza to be caught behind by Mohammad Shahzad for two runs.
Craig Ervine tried to clear the boundary off Dawlat Zadran to be taken in the deep by Noor Ali Zadran for four. Williams followed next, reverse sweeping Hamza only to get a top edge which flew to Dawlat Zadran to leave the home side wobbling at 13 for four.
Just as Zimbabwe were looking to build their innings, Ryan Burl fell for 11, removed by Nabi, caught by Hamza to leave the home team on 29 for five. The wobble continued, Tarisai Musakanda removed for seven by Gulbadin Naib, brilliantly caught at cover by Najibullah Zadran.
Malcolm Waller was next, trapped leg before wicket by Nabi. Chatara followed, bowled by Rashid Khan for a six ball duck. Christopher Mpofu was the ninth Zimbabwean batsman to depart for three as Zimbabwe were on 51 for 9. Nabi finished things off, last batsman in Richard Ngarava edging one to be taken at second slip by Khan.
Nabi ended with three wickets for 14 runs in 3.5 overs, Hamza picked up the same number at the expense of 20 runs, Khan took two with one wicket each for Dawlat Zadran and Naib.