Zimbabwe facing whitewash against Afghanistan

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Innocent Kaia plays a sweep shot during his half century against Afghanistan at Harare Sports Club on Sunday

The visiting Afghanistan team secured a 21-run win against Zimbabwe in the second Twenty20 international at Harare Sports Club on Sunday to claim a unassailable winning 2-0 lead in the three-match series.

Opening batsman Innocent Kaia’s maiden half century in Twenty20 internationals and a quickfire 41 off 21 deliveries by allrounder Sikandar Raza were not enough for Zimbabwe to keep the three match series alive.

Chasing Afghanistan’s target of 170 for five from their allotted 20 overs on a batting-friendly track, the hosts were restricted to 149-7 in reply which leaves them facing a whitewash.

Zimbabwe lost the three-match ODI series 3-0.

Kaia, who scored his maiden half century, was encouraged despite the loss.

“We bowled well today and used our powerplay well. We lost wickets here and there, but I think we were in the game,” Kaia said after the game.

“We just need to fine tune our middle-order batting — we need to rotate the strike more and look for boundary options.

“I’m happy to score my first half century because I faced some of the best spinners in the world, like Rashid and Nabi. Those guys are Indian Premier League players, so for me I take it as a positive. I scored freely from their bowling so I think it is a positive.”

Earlier after Afghanistan won the toss and elected to bat, Najibullah Zadran put on 70 runs for the fourth wicket with captain Mohammad Nabi before he was run out off the first ball of the final over.

He carried on where he left off on Saturday, when his unbeaten 44 earned Afghanistan a six-wicket victory in a thrilling run chase.

His 57 on Sunday came off 46 balls and included six fours and one six. It was the seventh half century for the 30-year-old left-hander.

Captain and all-rounder Nabi was quicker and more aggressive than Zadran, averaging two runs a ball in an unbeaten knock of 43 that included a four and four sixes.

Opener Hazratullah Zazai scored 28, laced with three fours and two sixes, before he became the first of three victims of wicketkeeper Regis Chakabva.

Right-arm fast medium pacer Tendai Chatara was the most successful Zimbabwe bowler, capturing the wickets of Zazai and fellow opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz (1).

In reply, opener Kaia excelled, batting from the start of the innings to the second last ball before being run out on 54. His virtual run-a-ball innings included two fours and a six.

He was involved in profitable partnerships with Tadiwanashe Marumani (30) and Raza (41) that offered a glimmer of hope that Zimbabwe could win and level the series.

But they were always trailing on run rate and when Raza was clean bowled by Khan with 14 balls remaining and Zimbabwe on 136-4, a collapse ensued.

Rashid was the most successful bowler, taking 2-32 in four overs.

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