Mighty Taylor Blasts Afghanistan To Level Series

A smashing effort with the bat, fronted by Brendan Taylor and Sikandar Raza, and a solid bowling effort led by Tendai Chatara and Graeme Cremer helped Zimbabwe trump Afghanistan by a whopping 154 runs in the second of five One-Day Internationals in Sharjah on Sunday (11 February).

Batting first, Zimbabwe looked good for a big score for the most part, but Taylor’s 125 and Raza’s 92, and the 155 runs they put together for the fourth wicket raised the pitch and took them to 333/5. Afghanistan, with a mountain to climb, slipped to 36/5 in no time and then managed to get to 179 in 30.1 overs. Chatara was the star of the bowling show, picking up three of the first four wickets to fall on his way to returns of 3/24 in eight overs, and Cremer took over after that to finish with 4/41.

The Zimbabwe batsmen, especially Taylor and Raza, exploited the short boundaries at the ground after Cremer won the toss and opted to bat, slamming 26 fours and 14 sixes.

Mujeeb Zadran, the 16-year-old spinner opened the bowling again and struck early again as Solomon Mire was trapped in front for nine in the third over. But it started to get away from Afghanistan after that as Hamilton Masakadza and Taylor, with a combined experience of 355 ODIs before this game, got going.

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Sikandar Raza slammed a 74-ball 92 to boost the Zimbabwe total

Together, they added 85 runs for the second wicket to take Zimbabwe to 95 before a terrible mix-up, which ended with the batsmen standing mid-pitch, forced Masakadza to go back after a 54-ball 48, with five fours and two sixes.

Craig Ervine took his time, but Taylor was in his stride by then. He scored 33 runs in his 49-run stand with Ervine, who nicked Rashid Khan behind to Mohammad Shahzad to walk back for a 30-ball 14, and then had a party in the company of Raza as the two found the fence with some ease.

By the end of the 40th over, the total had motored along to 226/3, with Taylor on 96 and Raza on 49. There were a couple of quiet overs as Rashid and Mujeeb kept things tight, but once he got to his century with a drive down to long-on off Rashid, Taylor opened up even more. A six over mid-wicket off Rashid was followed by a flick for four and a straight six off the bowling of Dawlat Zadran, and with Raza sending Dawlat and Gulbadin Naib to the boundary as well, the total 279 by the 46th over before the Afghans finally saw the back of Taylor. It came about when Taylor got down and across to scoop a googly from Rashid but missed it altogether.

The former Zimbabwe captain fell for 125, scored off 121 balls with five fours and eight sixes, and his partnership with Raza was worth 155 runs in 19.2 overs.

With Malcolm Waller walking out to join Raza, it didn’t get any better for Afghanistan, and Naib bowling a ten-ball over – three no-balls and a wide; the 47th of the innings – the scoreboard rattled along and touched 300 with 18 balls still to be bowled.

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Graeme Cremer was the most successful Zimbabwe bowler with 4/41

Raza looked good for his fourth ODI century but couldn’t quite counter a slower delivery outside off stump from Naib in the penultimate over of the innings, spooning a catch to Ihsanullah at cover to walk back for a 74-ball 92, with nine fours and four sixes. A couple more fours, one from Waller and one from Ryan Burl, and Afghanistan were left chasing a target that was pretty huge even considering the dimensions of the ground.

By the 11th over of the Afghanistan innings, the game had gone away from them, with the scoreboard reading 36/5.

Chatara struck first, having Ihsanullah caught on the flick at mid-on, and after Brian Vitori had won the battle of the comeback men by sending Shahzad back for a 20-ball 15, Chatara struck twice in the same over, first getting Asghar Stanikzai, the captain, to nick one behind to Taylor and then having Nasir Jamal caught by Burl at short cover.

That left Afghanistan at 29/4, and it became 36/5 when Najibullah Zadran miscued a slower delivery from Blessing Muzarabani to be caught in the covers.

There was a fightback, scripted by Rahmat Shah, whose century had headlined Afghanistan’s win in the first ODI, and Mohammad Nabi, the best batsman in the Twenty20 International series earlier. Together, they took the total to 89 before Cremer dented the plans with a double-strike. Nabi, after hitting three fours and two sixes in a 28-ball 31, missed the turn to be bowled, and Naib’s poor match ended first ball when he was lbw to a googly.

From there to the end was only a matter of time, but Dawlat swung his bat around, smashing two fours and six sixes in an unbeaten 29-ball 47, but that only served to entertain the crowd a bit and delay what was always the only likely outcome.

The third match of the series will be played at the same venue on Tuesday.

Source (ICC Website https://www.icc-cricket.com/news/622189)

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