Sports Desk: Najibullah Zadran smashed a career-best 30-ball 69 not out against Zimbabwe as Afghanistan made a winning start to the Twenty20 tri-series with a 28-run win on Saturday.
Zadran and Mohammad Nabi combined for an Afghan record 107 off 40 balls in a six-laden, fifth-wicket stand to help the side post 197-5.
A clinical bowling performance then saw them restrict Zimbabwe to 169-7, handing the southern African side a second straight defeat, reports indianexpress.com.
Nabi contributed 38 off 18 balls with four sixes before being dismissed on the last ball.
During their partnership, Nabi and Zadran, who struck five fours and six sixes, hit seven sixes in a row in the 16th and 17th overs.
Their aggression amassed 88 runs in the last five overs.
“The wicket was slower when I walked in to bat, so we targeted the last three to four overs,” Zadran said.
But it was opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz whose 24-ball 43 set up the platform for Zadran and Nabi after Zimbabwe opted to bowl first.
Zimbabwe clawed back with to reduce Afghanistan to 90-5 in the 14th over, after which Zadran and Nabi tormented the Zimbabwe bowlers.
Fast bowler Fareed Malik took 2-35 and strangled the Afghan top order after opener Brendan Taylor made a 16-ball 27.
Skipper Rashid, with 2-29, then sliced out the middle order before Regis Chakabva struck an unbeaten 41 off 23 to reduce the margin.
“The only positive thing coming out was how we batted towards the end and how the spinners bowled in the middle overs,” Zimbabwe skipper Hamilton Masakadza said.
“Our spinners brought us back in the middle but Najib and Nabi played really well to take the game away from us.”
Afghanistan takes on Bangladesh in its second match on Sunday.
risingbd/Dhaka/Sep 15, 2019/Nasim