The loss of four wickets for no runs resulted in Zimbabwe throwing away a 2-0 lead against Afghanistan, who drew the four-match series 2-2 after a 100-run win in Bulawayo.
A top order collapse meant that Brendan Taylor’s side couldn’t get anywhere near the 259 posted by Afghanistan, who had been put into bat first after losing the toss. It represents a great comeback from the Afghans, who are currently ranked above the African nation in the ICC T20 world rankings.
After trailing 2-0 after the opening two One Day Internationals in Zimbabwe, the tourists won back-to-back games to secure a share of the spoils. A two-wicket victory on Monday kept the series alive, taking it to the final game on Wednesday.
Batting first in the final game, the away side were helped by contributions throughout the order. Shafiquallah Shafiq top-scored with 56 from 43 balls, but he received great support. Samiullah Shenwari (40), Nasir Ahmadzai (39) and captain, Mohammad Nabi (37), all provided key contributions with the bat as the Afghans were all out for 259 with five balls to spare from their allotted 50 overs.
Zimbabwe’s Donald Tiripano took five wickets – in just his second ODI appearance – but was very expensive, ending with figures of 5-63 from the 9.1 overs he bowled.
With 260 set for a series victory, Zimbabwe’s reply never really got going. Brendan Taylor (1) only spent one over at the crease, which preceded the loss of four Zimbabweans without troubling the scorers.
Sean Williams, Sikander Butt, Elton Chigumbura and Malcolm Waller were all dismissed within two overs of one another, taking the score from 29-2 to 29-6.
From that position the odds looked against the hosts, despite resistance further down the order. Richmond Mutumbami (64) received good support from Timycen Maruma (29) as the pair put on a stand of 97 for the seventh wicket.
But the damage had already been done, and Zimbabwe’s innings came to a close when they lost their last wicket in just the 38th over.
Afghanistan – who only played their first full ODI in 2009 – will take great confidence from this victory, against the side ranked one place higher than them in the 50-over format.
At present, the only nation ranked below them by the ICC is Ireland, although in T20 Internationals they fare better than both Zimbabwe and Scotland. Earlier this year, the Afghans defeated Bangladesh by 32 runs at Fatullah.