Sports News from Sri Lanka: Najibullah Zadran struck a blistering half-century as Afghanistan beat Zimbabwe by 28 runs in Saturday’s first game of the Twenty20 International tri-nation tournament in Dhaka.
Zadran smashed an unbeaten 69 off 30 balls, with five fours and six six leading Afghanistan to 197-5 before their bowlers restrained Zimbabwe to 169-7 to match their own record of 11 successive international victories in Twenty20.
Regis Chakabva struck 42 off 22 shots not out for Zimbabwe but they came late as bowlers from Afghanistan made some early breakthroughs to keep the goal out of reach.
Skipper Rashid Khan and left-hand seamer Fareed Malik respectively claimed 2-29 and 2-35, while Karim Janat and Gulbadin Naib chipped in one wicket.
“Being and winning a captain in T20Is for the first time, thanks to Allah. In batting, bowling, and fielding, everyone contributed, “Rashid said after the game. “I believe that’s the beauty of cricketers from Afghanistan that they can rapidly adapt as per the format,” Rashid said.
Debutant Rahmanullah Gurbaz scored 43 off 24 balls and shared 57 runs with Hazratullah Zazai (13) at the opening stand after Zimbabwe’s captain Hamilton Masakadza won the toss and chose to bowl first.
But the innings of Afghanistan gained real momentum once Mohammad Nabi joined Zadran in a fifth-wicket stand to share 107 runs in just 40 balls. The duo hit sixes between the 17th and the 18th over on seven consecutive balls to give Afghanistan an impressive total.
The partnership was lamented by Zimbabwe’s captain Masakadza. “A little bit of a deceptive day. Our spinners were bowling in the center really well, extracting turn from the wicket, but Najib and Nabi just took the game away from us, “he said.