Afghanistan win 3-2 against Zimbabwe in ODI series
Afghanistan's rise up the cricketing ladder seems to continue as they won the fifth and final ODI against Zimbabwe in Sharjah by two wickets to win the five-match series 3-2. Gulbadin Naib turned out to be the hero as he saw the Afghans through to the finishing line with a massive six to score the winning runs.
Zimbabwe set Afghanistan a target of 249 in 50 overs after Hamilton Masakadza scored a brilliant 110 off 111 balls. Masakadza was ably assisted by opener, Peter Moor as they put on a partnership of 101 runs for the second wicket.
After looking comfortable at one point, being 167/2 in 35 overs, Zimbabwe would have hoped to put on a big score on the board and seal a dramatic comeback in the series. However, the Afghan bowlers came back well and picked up the remaining eight wickets conceding just 81 runs to bowl Zimbabwe out for 248 runs.
Amir Hamza was the pick of the bowlers for Afghanistan as he picked up three wickets for just 41 runs. Dawlat Zadran, Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi picked two wickets each.
In reply, Afghanistan chased down the target with two balls to spare, powered by Naib's unbeaten 82 off 68 balls.
Although Afghanistan got off to a good start scoring 49-0 in 8 overs, they began losing wickets at regular intervals. When Afghanistan lost their captain Asghar Stanikzai in the 35th over, the Afghans were in deep trouble at 146-6.
But then, Naib and 17-year-old Rashid Khan put in a match-winning partnership of 85 runs to give the Associate Nation an unlikely series victory. Naib played a top quality knock as he steadied the ship as well as played the big shots when required. He hit three fours and six sixes in his innings of 82*.
Rashid Khan played a mature innings sticking around with the better batsman and scored a useful 31 off 41 balls. After losing two quick wickets, Zimbabwe looked to have made their way back into the match, but Naib made sure that there were no hiccups.
Naib, however, celebrated too early in the last over of the match when there was still one more run to be scored off three balls. The 24-year-old all-rounder smashed a six to score the winning runs and brought delirium in the Afghanistan camp.
This is Afghanistan's second series victory after winning a five-match ODI series 3-2 in Zimbabwe in October 2015. The first two matches of the series were won by Afghanistan and Zimbabwe had made a great comeback into the series by winning the third and fourth ODIs.
The two teams will two T20Is on January 8 and January 10 at Sharjah.
Brief Scores: Afghanistan 254/8, 49.4 overs (Naib 82*, Shahidi 32; Jongwe 3/50) beat Zimbabwe (toss) 248, 50 overs (Masakadza 110, Moor 42; Hamza 3/41, Nabi 2/23) by two wickets.
Afghanistan win series 3-2 v Zim This means Ban, SAfrica & Pak remain the only sides to win an ODI series after being 0-2 down. #ZimvAfg— Mohandas Menon (@mohanstatsman) January 6, 2016
#AFGvZIM With a SIX by Gulbadin Naib, Match is over Afghanistan win by 2 wickets (with 2 balls remaining)— Zimbabwe Cricket (@ZimCricketv) January 6, 2016