Najibullah Zadran and Mohammad Nabi help Afghanistan seal a streak


Najibullah was Afghanistan’s top scorer. ©AFP

Afghanistan extended their Tour of Zimbabwe winning streak to five games as they won the three-game T20I series with one game to spare, with a convincing 21-point win on Sunday. The visitors shut out Zimbabwe 3-0 in previous ODIs.

Najibullah Zadran’s 46-ball 57 was the top scorer, with aggressive supporting cameos from flyhalf Hazratullah Zazai and skipper Mohammad Nabi on either side, as Afghanistan posted 170/5 from their 20 overs. The home side’s chase never really got started with fly-half Innocent Kaia making a rather calm 54 of 57 to put extra pressure on the rest of the stick, until he was forced out from the front. -last ball. So much so that even a counterattack from Sikandar Raza – intertwined four sixes – couldn’t compensate.

Tendai Chatara scored on his fifth and ninth balls of the match, but between the dismissal of Afghanistan’s first two players, Zazai was left with 13 balls and 28 which set up Afghanistan’s 51/3 in numerical advantage. But with Dawish Rasooli retiring injured after snapping a few paws on Donald Tiripano in the space of three deliveries, Zadran dropped anchor to avoid a meltdown. He added 42 quiet runs with Karim Janat in the next 7.1 overs. The latter, however, had a difficult stay in the middle which lasted 18 deliveries before perishing while trying to jostle Ryan Burl.

Zadran and Nabi took Afghanistan past the 100-point mark in 15th before hitting the gas. The former hit his 50s from 39 with four lofts, while Nabi picked up a couple sixes off Raza and Tiripano – even getting a life on the second draw at deep midwicket. Zadran was also dropped on 54 but only collected three before perishing early in the final. Nabi, meanwhile, sent two balls into the stands to help the visitors finish strong.

Zimbabwe’s response lacked momentum from the start. To make matters worse, Fazalhaq Farooqi got rid of Wesley Madhevere with a slower ball which he started his day with. It was Tadiwanashe Marumani’s four and six that gave them a respectable 38/1 in their powerplay. In the big chase, the fifty came as late as the eighth and Zimbabwe were just 65/2 at the halfway mark with Marumani offering a return to Nabi after a 22-ball 30.

Janant fired Sean Ervine on the second ball of his spell, but he was dragged deep into the middle stands by Raza on the next. Rashid came next in the line of fire as the veteran slammed two sixes in the 15th to take Zimbabwe to triple figures. Azmatullah Omarzai took a similar penalty in the 16th as Zimbabwe appeared to be in a late run for playoff parity. However, with 42 required on the back three, Rashid came back to defuse the situation with a nice googly to edge past Raza for a 21-ball 41 and Burl on a second-ball duck. Despite Kaia’s 50s, Zimbabwe have failed to recover from their slow start.

Short scores: Afghanistan 170/5 in 20 overs (Najibullah Zadran 57, Mohammad Nabi 43*; Tendai Chatara 2-33) beaten Zimbabwe 149/7 in 20 overs (Innocent Kaia 54, Sikandar Raza 41; Rashid Khan 2-32) by 21 runs

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