Afghanistan ease past Zimbabwe in first T20I

Fine knocks from Hazratullah Zazai (45) and Najibullah Zadran (44 not out) powered Afghanistan to a six-wicket victory over Zimbabwe in the first T20 International of the three-match series in Harare on Saturday.

Zimbabwe elected to bat first and got off to a shaky start, losing opener Innocent Kaia (6) with only 12 runs on the board.

Then Wessley Madhevere and skipper Craig Ervine tried to stabilise the innings but their promising stand was cut short at 30 runs after pacer Nijat Masood caught and bowled Ervine for 9.

From then on, Zimbabwe lost wickets at regular intervals and never really had big partnerships.

Sikandar Raza (45), Madhevere (32) and Regis Chakabva (29) were their notable contributors.

Nijat Masood dominated Afghanistan’s bowling, taking 3 for 39, while Fazalhaq Farooqi, Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi got a wicket each.

Chasing 160, Afghanistan were off to a good start, with openers Hazratullah Zazai (45) and wicketkeeper-batter Rahmanullah Gurbaz (33) putting up an 83-run stand for the first wicket in ten overs.

The equation was down to 54 from the last four overs. Usman Ghani and Darwish Rasooli fell cheaply and the visitors were 134 for 4 in 17.2 overs needing 26 runs in 16 balls.

Najibullah Zadran (44*) and Nabi (15*) completed formalities with four balls to spare.

Zadran was named ‘Man of the Match’ for his knock.

Brief scores:

Zimbabwe 159 for 8 (Sikandar Raza 45, Wessley Madhevere 32, Nijat Masood 3/39) lost to Afghanistan 160 for 4 in 19.2 overs (Hazratullah Zazai 45, Najibullah Zadran 44*, Ryan Burl 3/14) by six wickets.

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