The Afghanistan National Cricket Team has clinched Zimbabwe in the 1st T20I.
Their 6-wicket victory in Bulawayo gave the visitors an early lead and ensured that they carried their successful ODI form into T20Is as well.
After winning the toss on a hard surface, Elton Chigumbura opted to bat. His decision was validated as both the openers ran riot. Sikandar Raza and Chamu Chibhabha combined together to dispatch the wayward Afghan bowlers to all parts of the ground, reaching half-centuries in the process.
At 100/1 from 12 overs, they were projected to reach a formidable score. However, Raza threw his wicket away to leg-spinner Rashid Khan whose control was remarkable. Then, seam bowler Dawlat Zadran began dismantling the Zimbabwean top order with his handy pace.
In a vicious spell of pace bowling, the 27-year-old sent back Chibhabha, Sean Williams and Craig Ervine in quick succession. All three were castled in astounding fashion as they did not have a clue against Zadran’s searing yorkers.
As a result, the home team was restricted to 153/5. When the Afghan openers walked in to bat, they were filled with intent and anticipation. Mohammad Shahzad’s blitz at the start threw the Zimbabwean bowlers off their plans.
When he departed, Shahzad had rattled the opposition camp. However, the Zimbabwean bowlers came back to reduce the tourists to 85/4 by maintaining pressure with a tight bowling display.
But, the experienced duo of Mohammad Nabi and Najibullah Zadran started to return the favour by batting with authority and purpose. The unbeaten stand between the veterans carried Afghanistan to a famous victory at the Queens Sports Club.
The 2nd T20I is scheduled to be held at the same venue on Wednesday.