Zimbabwe have a lot of work to do if they’re to keep the series from blowing out in this second ODI against Afghanistan, they were totally outplayed in their last outing at Sharjah.
Slowly but surely starting to work their way up the ICC rankings in the one-day format, Afghanistan are starting to build a team that finally looks likes challenging some of the upper-echelon countries in the world. On the other side of the fence, Zimbabwe have always been a cricketing-minnow in International cricket despite some successful patches every now and then, but they just lack that class & consistency that other sides can fall back on. There’s plenty of experience, that’s for sure, but the likes of Hamilton Masakadza, Brendan Taylor and Craig Ervine just don’t bring enough consistency to the table when it’s desperately required. It appears Afghanistan are getting stronger every year while Zimbabwe are continuing to fluctuate before our very own eyes. This second match should tell us a lot about these two sides, Afghanistan have put the pressure on the visitors to respond with a bang, the question is do Zimbabwe have what it takes to match them on their home turf, it’s a big ask that’s for sure.
Had Mohammad Shahzad not picked out a fielder in the first match, Zimbabwe could have been staring down the barrel of an even bigger total than 333. He is a huge physical presence at the top of the order for Afghanistan, a solidly-built man who bludgeons his way to big scores & can get on a roll if he’s still around by the ten over mark. To Zimbabwe’s credit, they dismissed the key wicket of Shahzad but unfortunately fell victim to another Afghani batsman who decided to take the tourists for a joy ride around the Sharjah Cricket Stadium, two of them in fact. Rahmat Shah notched up his third ODI century in 34 matches, while Najibullah Zadran went on a hitting-frenzy as he blitzed the opposition bowlers all around the park in a quick-fire 81 to end their innings in style. Not renown for their durable bowling attack, Zimbabwe were set a target that was far beyond them before their innings even began,
Zimbabwe opening batsman Solomon Mire took it upon himself to set the standard for his team, scoring at a rapid pace as he went after Afghanistan’s new ball attack & with some success I might add. Unfortunately his aggressive approach was short-lived after his stumps were uprooted by an almost-unplayable yorker that ended Mire’s action packed 34 which included two boundaries and three sixes, Zimbabwe fell away from that point on. As senior players, Hamilton Masakadza and Brendan Taylor need to have some accountability for their own wicket, more often than not their aggressive nature gets the better of them and they constantly dish up failures in a side that just can’t afford them. Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan might just be the best leg-spin bowler since the great Shane Warne, a bold statement I know, but he’s got the stats to back it up as well as the variation in his deliveries. When given his opportunity, he almost single-handedly took out Zimbabwe’s lower order which saw him end the match with figures of 4/26 from just 5.4 overs.
With an attack thriving off the success of mastermind spinner Rashid Khan and a batting line-up that has plenty of experience and firepower, Zimbabwe are currently running second in this race and look a couple steps behind the hosts, almost as if they’ve been trumped in very single area of the game. Zimbabwe need something special from a Solomon Mire or Sikandar Raza with the bat in this next ODI, they’ve both got that X factor when they get a run on and are the masters of accelerating an innings when they find their range at the crease. With that being said, seeing off Rashid Khan is a task in itself, an aggressive approach is beyond risky against a teenager who’s always one step ahead of the batsman.
Top 5 fantasy picks | Afghanistan | 2nd ODI | Sharjah
- Rashid Khan
- Mohammad Shahzad
- Rahmat Shah
- Mohammad Nabi
- Dawlat Zadran
Wildcard pick – Nasir Jamal
Top 5 fantasy picks | Zimbabwe | 2nd ODI | Sharjah
- Sikandar Raza
- Solomon Mire
- Graeme Cremer
- Tendai Chatara
- Hamilton Masakadza
Wildcard pick – Malcolm Waller
Afghanistan (possible) – 1. Mohammad Shahzad (wk) 2. Ihsanullah 3. Rahmat Shah 4. Asghar Stanikzai (c) 5. Nasir Jamal 6. Najibullah Zadran 7. Mohammad Nabi 8. Gulbadin Naib 9. Rashid Khan 10. Dawlat Zadran 11. Mujeeb Ur Rahman.
Zimbabwe (possible) – 1. Hamilton Masakadza 2. Solomon Mire 3. Brendan Taylor (wk) 4. Craig Ervine 5. Sikandar Raza 6. Ryan Burl 7. Malcolm Waller 8. Graeme Cremer (c) 9. Kyle Jarvis 10. Tendai Chatara 11. Brian Vitori/Tendai Chisoro.