Afghanistan survive last-gasp Zimbabwe fightback for victory


Afghanistan survived a late scare to beat Zimbabwe by five runs in the first of their two-game Twenty20 International series in Sharjah.

Buoyant Afghanistan were in confident mood following the 3-2 win in the one-day international series that sent them into the top 10 of the ICC ODI rankings and Usman Ghani (42) Gulbadin Naib (37) were key to setting a strong target of 187-7.

Malcolm Waller made the opposition sweat with an unbeaten 49, but the tourists fell narrowly short in a tense finale as Luke Jongwe (11) was caught at deep cover when attempting to find a winning maximum from the last ball.

Having won the toss and elected to bat, Mohammad Shahzad (33) and Ghani put on an opening stand of 63 for Afghanistan before the former was bowled by Graeme Cremer (3-17).

Sikandar Raza (1-27) dismissed Ghani when he was caught at long-off in the 13th over, while Naib hit 37 off just 20 balls, including three maximums, before being run out by Richmond Mutumbami to help propel Afghanistan to a more than respectable total.

Zimbabwe's chase immediately hit a setback when Peter Moor (2) was dismissed third ball by Dawlat Zadran (3-32).

However, the 27-year-old had no answer for Waller, who hit 49 runs from 37 deliveries as Zimbabwe required 21 runs in the final over for a late victory.

Zadran seemed to be struggling with the pressure as he opened with two illegal deliveries and, after Elton Chigumbura (8) was run out, saw Luke Jongwe plunder 10 runs off successive balls.

Jongwe had kept Zimbabwe in with a chance, but failed to clear the ropes when looking for the winning six and was caught by Naib.