Najibullah Zadran, bowlers drive Afghanistan to series sweep

Afghanistan 183 for 7 (Najibullah 72*, Ghani 39, Ngarava 2-35) beat Zimbabwe 136 for 5 (Raza 41*, Burl 39*, Janat 2-34) by 47 runs

Asghar Afghan became the most successful men’s T20I captain of all time, surpassing MS Dhoni, as Afghanistan recorded their 42nd win under him in the format. Their 47-run win over Zimbabwe ensured a clean-sweep of a three-match series and extended their record over Zimbabwe to 11 wins from 12 matches, and their winning streak in T20Is in the UAE to 16 matches. On the other hand, Zimbabwe have not won a T20I since October 2019, a run of eight defeats.

Though this was Afghanistan’s lowest total of the series (they batted first each time), the margin of victory was similar to the previous matches – 47 runs, after wins by 48 runs and 45 runs – illustrating the gulf between the two teams.

After totals of 198 and 193 earlier in the week, Afghanistan were kept to 183 in this match and owed their total largely to Najibullah Zadran, who smashed a 35-ball 72* to dent a Zimbabwe attack that had done relatively well for the first 15 overs of the innings. Despite giving themselves their best chance to win a match, Zimbabwe’s batting once again let them down. Their top order lacked the power-hitters needed to set up a T20-style innings, which meant that Sikandar Raza and Ryan Burl’s unbroken 80-run sixth-wicket stand was not enough to put any real pressure on Afghanistan.

ANOTHER YOUNGSTER SHINES:

Nineteen-year-olds Ibrahim Zadran and Rahmanullah Gurbaz impressed with the bat in the Tests and T20Is respectively, and Afghanistan have another promising youngster to show off: Fazalhaq Farooqi. The left-arm pacer had only played one T20 before today but it took him just five balls to make a mark. He got his first wickets in the first over of the Zimbabwe reply, when Tinashe Kamunhukamwe cleared his front leg to hit him across the line to the on-side and inside-edged on his stumps. Farooqi bowled his full quota of overs, played with his lengths and speeds and tried the short, slower ball often. He still needs to learn to use it with a bit more discretion but on first glance, he has what it takes.

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