Batting woes continue as Zimbabwe lose series opener

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Sikandar Raza's half century was in vain as Zimbabwe lost the first ODI against Afghanistan by 60 runs at Harare Sports Club on Saturday Pic by Jekesai Njikizana

Zimbabwe lost further ground on the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League standings after losing the first One Day International (ODI) against the visiting Afghanistan team by 60 runs at Harare Sports Club on Saturday.

The defeat in the opening match of the three-man series leaves Zimbabwe languishing in 12th position, just one spot ahead of bottom-placed Netherlands in the standings.

In contrast, Afghanistan, who secured 10 points with the victory in Harare move up the ladder to third position above India and Australia and only trailing leaders Bangladesh and second-placed England.

The top eight finishers in the Super League gain direct qualification to the the2023 Cricket World Cup in India.

Zimbabwe were yet again left ruing another disappointing performance with the bat after being dismissed for 216 runs to fall 60 runs short of Afghanistan’s total.

After winning the toss and electing to bowl, Zimbabwe has Afghanistan at 38 for two inside the first 10 overs before Rahmat Shah (94) and captain Hashmatullah Shahidi (88) led the recovery, allowing the tourists to post 276-5 in 50 overs.

Fast bowler Blessing Muzarabani was the pick of the Zimbabwe bowlers, claiming four wickets for 52 runs in nine overs.

Muzarabani, who was making a return after a learning stint at the Indian Premier League (IPL) also claimed the of Shah and Shahidi, who had added 181 runs for the third wicket.

He deserved a five-wicket haul and it almost came in the 49th over when Craig Ervine failed to hold on to a difficult catch, sparing Rashid Khan, who went on to give the tourists a strong finish with a fiery 17-ball 39.

Despite the loss of opener Regis Chakabva as early as the second over, with just one run on the board, Zimbabwe initially kept up with the required run rate but lost wickets regularly.

With the exception of allrounder Sikandar Raza’s 67 off 78 deliveries, none of the Zimbabwe batsmen managed to put the Afghanistan bowlers under any sustained pressure.

Debutant opener Innocent Kaia, who scored 39 from 78 and captain Craig Ervine (30 off 40 balls) both failed to convert their starts while Donald Tiripano’s 15, batting at number eight was the third-highest contribution.

were always behind the required run rate and were all out for 216 off the final ball of the innings with Sikandar Raza (67), debutant Innocent Kaia (39) and captain Craig Ervine (30) the best batsmen.

In the end, Zimbabwe was all out for 216 in their 50 overs to hand a relatively easy win for the visitors.

Nabi was the most impressive Afghan bowler, finishing with 4-34 and Rashid Khan (2-39) and Fazal Haq Farooqi (2-41) were the best of the rest.

The two teams will meet in two more ODI matches on Monday and Thursday followed by three Twenty 20 internationals on June 11, 12 and 14 with Harare Sports Club hosting all six games.

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