WITH the threat of a shocking series defeat looming large, under-pressure Zimbabwe will be aiming to come out all guns blazing when they meet an upbeat Afghanistan in the third one day international (ODI) at Queens Sports Club today.
BY SPORTS REPORTER
Afghanistan, who seemed down and out after a comprehensive eight wicket defeat in the series opener last Friday, bounced back with a brilliant 58 run victory to leave the pressure squarely on Zimbabwe.
After being set a competitive target of 272 to win, Zimbabwe never came close to chasing down the total, with no batsman passing 50 as they slipped to 213 all out in 47 overs.
With the five-match ODI series now evenly poised at 1-1, the hosts will know they cannot afford any more slipups against an Afghanistan side, which has shown it has the potential to cause an upset.
Zimbabwe will no doubt be looking to improvement with both bat and ball after failing to click in both departments on Sunday.
The bowling department, which was ruthless in the opening match after dismissing the tourists for just 122 runs, lacked the same penetration on Sunday allowing Afghanistan to reach 271 for the loss of just six wickets.
Mohammad Nabi was the architect as his ton took the game away from the home side and made the run-chase much more difficult despite Luke Jongwe’s late surge right at the death.
There was no excuse for Zimbabwe failing to mount a serious run chase, as the track remained good for batting throughout the day.
Zimbabwe Cricket selectors could be tempted to rope in Sean Williams to bolster the middle order, as all indications are that he is fit to play, but they will have headaches over whom to drop to make way for him.
Mutombodzi has had a couple of twenties with the bat and some wickets to go with that, making his potential is undoubted.
Tendai Chisoro had a dream debut and while he went for runs with the ball in the second ODI, he still had some useful contributions fielding. This leaves John Nyumbu as the likeliest candidate for the chop for today’s encounter after a horror show with the ball on Sunday saw him conceding 32 runs from just four overs.
Skipper Elton Chigumbura’s batting form is cause for concern, as he has not had a score of substance since his 67 during the home series against Pakistan – and that was six matches ago.
He will be the first one to admit that he is overdue a big innings, particularly today, when his charges need nothing short of a win.
Zimbabwe (probable): 1 Chamu Chibhabha, 2 Richmond Mutumbami (wk), 3 Craig Ervine, 4 Elton Chigumbura (capt), 5 Sean Williams, 6 Sikandar Raza, 7 Tino Mutombodzi, 8 Luke Jongwe, 9 Wellington Masakadza, 10 Tendai Chisoro, 11 Tinashe Panyangara,
Afghanistan (probable): 1 Noor Ali Zadran, 2 Nawroz Mangal, 3 Mohammad Shahzad (wk), 4 Asghar Stanikzai (capt), 5 Mohammad Nabi, 6 Samiullah Shenwari, 7 Najibullah Zadran, 8 Amir Hamza, 9 Aftab Alam, 10 Dawlat Zadran, 11 Shapoor Zadran.