Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter
A RUTHLESS Chevrons flexed their muscles and levelled the five-match One Day International cricket contest against Afghanistan with a seven-wicket triumph through the Duckworth/Lewis method, with 118 runs balls to spare, at Harare Sports Club yesterday.
The win means that the five-match series is now level at 2-2 heading into the final winner-take-all ODI tomorrow.
Man-of-the-match, veteran seamer Christopher Mpofu, led the way with three wickets, with two each for leg spinner Graeme Cremer and pace bowler Tendai Chatara as Zimbabwe bowled out Afghanistan for 111 in 32.2 overs in a rain-affected match.
Skipper Asghar Stanikzai was the highest run scorer for the visitors with 19 runs after the tourists had won the toss and chose to bat.
Opener Solomon Mire top scored with a rapid 46 off 50 balls as Zimbabwe made 107 for three in 22.2 overs.
Mire was one of the three Zimbabwean batsmen dismissed with the others being Tarisai Musakanda and Craig Ervine.
Rain disruptions when Afghanistan were batting saw the match being reduced to a 42-over affair.
Zimbabwe’s target also got to be revised to 105 runs to win when Afghanistan had made 111.
Left-arm seamer Richard Ngarava almost had the big wicket of Mohammad Shahzad only for the batsman to be dropped at mid-off by Mpofu.
Chatara soon found the breakthrough for Zimbabwe, Ihsanullah Janat caught at mid-wicket to depart for a duck.
In his next over, Chatara bowled Rahmat Shah with a slow ball which knocked over the batsman’s off stump.
Shahzad was put down again, this time off Chatara’s bowling, the ball bouncing off Solomon Mire’s hands.
Ngarava had Shahzad out for the second time in the series, the explosive opener gone for nine in 27 deliveries, Ryan Burl with the catch at extra cover to leave Afghanistan on 12 for 3.
Mpofu picked up a wicket in his first over, Stanikzai his victim, wicketkeeper Peter Moor with the catch behind.
The lanky fast bowler picked up his second wicket, Hashmat taken behind by Moor.
Just as Afghanistan were looking to build a partnership, Cremer struck to remove Samiullah Shenwari for 13, the batsmen looking to guide the ball down leg side but popped it up in the air, Chatara with the catch running back to third man.
Cremer, in the next over had his second wicket, debutant Karim Janat getting an outside edge to be taken by Moor to depart for nine.
Rain disrupted play and when the match resumed, Mire picked up the wicket of Mohammad Nabi who was taken at point by Craig Ervine for 17 runs.
Another lengthy delay was caused by the rain and when play did resume, Afghanistan were soon nine down for 103, Gulbadin Naib run out for 10, Malcolm Waller throwing the ball for Sean Williams to complete the dismissal.
Mpofu ended the Afghanistan innings, Rashid Khan caught at extra cover by Cremer.
The tall fast bowler ended with three for 25 in 7.5 overs with two maidens, Cremer had two for 12 in eight overs with one maiden while Chatara had the same number of wickets for 32 runs in nine overs with two of his overs not costing any runs.
Needing 2.5 runs per over to level the series, openers Moor and Mire raced to the finish line.
Mire was the more aggressive of the two, slamming Gulbadin for a massive six over the media centre roof which saw the ball being changed.
Mire tried to get to his 50 in style, charging down Nabi but only succeeded in getting caught at long on by Shenwari to depart for an innings made up of five fours and two sixes.
Zimbabwe 107/3 22.2 overs (Mire 46, Moor 36*, Williams 16*, Nabi 2/11, Khan 1/27) beat
Afghanistan 111 all out 38.5 overs (Stanikzai 19, Nabi 17, Mpofu 3/25, Cremer 2/12, Chatara 2/39) by seven wickets with 118 balls to spare (Duckworth/Lewis method)