HARARE – The jinx is broken. Zimbabwe are back in the series with a hard fought three runs victory over Afghanistan in the third ODI at Harare Sports Club yesterday.
The hosts put in one of their worst batting displays in the series so far as they were bundled out for a measly 129 in 32.4 overs and at that stage it looked like Afghanistan would wrap up the five-match series as they were already leading 2-0.
However, a combination of some good pace and spin bowling by Zimbabwe saw the hosts snatch victory from the jaws of defeat as they bowled out the Asians for 126 inside 29.3 overs to get back into the series.
The day started on an encouraging note for Zimbabwe with captain Graeme Cremer winning the toss for the first time in this series and opting to bat; a rather courageous decision considering a heavy downpour that had hit Harare on Monday.
Zimbabwe’s innings got off to a bad start with opener Solomon Mire (4) was caught by Rashid Khan off Fareed Ahmad’s bowling in the fourth over.
Fellow opener PJ Moor (10) was next to return to the pavilion after he was dismissed by the combination of Noor Ali Zadran and Gulbadin Naib.
Top order batsman Tarisai Musakanda (60) provided some resistance with a maiden ODI half century while Malcolm Waller chipped in with an unbeaten 36.
Naib was the pick of the Afghanistan bowlers with figures of 4-27 in six overs while spinner Rashid Khan claimed figures of 3-29 from 5.4 overs.
The Zimbabwe bowlers would however, redeem the situation right from the start of the Afghanistan innings with youthful seamer Richard Ngarava grabbing his second international wicket with his first ball of the day.
Chatara took his first in the fifth over before Chris Mpofu and returning Sean Williams made it a two-man late show.
Williams, Chatara and Mpofu all finished with three wickets as Zimbabwe completed their most dramatic comeback restricting.
“A good victory and comes as a bit of relief after going down 2-0 earlier in the series but I feel our batters are just not applying themselves well enough,” Cremer said after the match.
“We need to have big scores from our batsmen. They (Afghanistan) know how to dominate when they on top, that’s the position we need to get into once we on top we stay on top.”