A serious batting collapse saw Zimbabwe going down to Afghanistan by five wickets in their first Twenty-20 international (T20I) match played in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, on Monday.
Afghanistan won the toss and put Zimbabwe in to bat.
The only time Zimbabwe appeared to be in the match was during the first-wicket partnership of 52 between Hamilton Masakadza and Solomon Mire.
Afghanistan opened with their spin bowlers, but the batsmen handled them well and 23 runs came off the fourth over, bowled by the left-arm spinner Sharafuddin Ashraf.
After 5.5 overs Mire was caught at midwicket off the medium-pacer Aftab Alam, having scored 34 off 21 balls, with five fours and two sixes.
At this point the Zimbabwe batsmen became bogged down, and Brendan Taylor could manage only three runs off 11 balls before, in desperation, he ran himself out.
Masakadza was bowled for 18 and the middle order, under high pressure to score quickly, collapsed to 85 for eight wickets at the start of the 17th over.
Malcolm Waller alone of the remainder reached double figures, playing superbly for 27 not out off 16 balls, and Tendai Chatara (7) stayed long enough with him to take the score past 100.
Waller scored 17 off the final over, but the final score of 120 never looked like being enough.
This score was made despite some very poor fielding by the Afghan team, who missed several possible catches or run-out opportunities.
The leg-spinner Rashid Khan, kept back for the final overs, took three wickets for 19 runs, while Ashraf recovered from his one disastrous over to take two for 31.
When Afghanistan replied Chatara should have had the wicket of Mohammad Shahzad for two in his first over, but Mire could not hold the difficult chance off a skyer.
However, a bouncer from Kyle Jarvis accounted for Karim Sadiq, who was caught at the wicket for five, the wicket falling at 15.
Shahzad laid into the bowling with a vengeance, scoring 20 off 11 balls, but then edged a ball from Blessing Muzarabani to the keeper.
Chatara joined the party by dismissing Asghar Stanikzai lbw for 10, and Afghanistan were 51 for three in the seventh over.
Mohammad Nabi and Ashraf took the score to 80 before Ryan Burl trapped Ashraf lbw for 18 in the 11th over, and then Muzarabani quickly had Najibullah Zadran caught at the wicket without scoring.
But there were no further alarms for Afghanistan, and Nabi (41) and Shafiqullah (14) took them home without further loss with five overs to spare.
Muzarabani took two expensive wickets, but overall Zimbabwe’s bowlers did quite a good job considering they had too few runs to be able to pull the match out of the fire.
The two sides will meet again on Tuesday in the second T20I match at the same venue.
Zimbabwe – 120-9 in 20 overs (Solomon Mire 34, Malcolm Waller 27*, Hamilton Masakadza 18; Rashid Khan 3/19, Sharafuddin Ashraf 2/31)
Afghanistan – 121-5 in 14.4 overs (Mohammad Nabi 40*, Mohammad Shahzad 20, Sharafuddin Ashraf 18; Blessing Muzarabani 2/36, Ryan Burl 1/11)
Afghanistan won by five wickets.