Zimbabwe beat Afghanistan by 10 wickets

Zim cricket team the Chevrons beat Afghanistan by 10 wickets. Afghanistan started at an innings defeat after losing wickets to 49 for 6 in their second innings, still 70 behind Zimbabwe, who took a 119-run lead 25 minutes post-lunch on the second day of the first Test.

Sean Williams was the architect of the advantage and scored his third Test century, which was also his second in successive matches while having just as many as captain, thus averaging 80.50 while in charge. He shared a 75-run seventh-wicket partnership with Regis Chakabva, who, along with Sikandar Raza, was the only Zimbabwe batsmen to score more than 15.

On a surface that assisted the quicks on the first morning, took a turn later in the day and continues to show signs of extra bounce, batsmen from both sides found the going tough, and Afghanistan much more so. They lost five wickets for 21 runs inside 11 overs in their second innings, and also a sixth shortly before tea to render their challenge all but over.

Victor Nyauchi added to his three first-innings wickets with three more so far in this innings and broke the back of the Afghan resistance. He struck with his third ball, a back-of-a-length delivery, which took Abdul Malik’s outside edge and saw him pick up a pair on debut. Then he found a big swing and struck Rahmat Shah on the pad as the batsman fell over trying to flick the ball square, before having Hashmatullah Shahidi top-edging a hook to Wesley Madhevere at deep square leg to rip through Afghanistan’s top order. In between those dismissals, Blessing Muzarabani plucked his fifth in the match, when he had debutant Munir Ahmad, promoted to No. 3, out lbw.

Meanwhile, his captain Williams had Afsar Zazai coming forward to defend a ball that first hit the pad and then spun to take the outside edge and land in first slip’s hands. Though Zazai was given out lbw, he would have been out caught even if the ball would not have gone on to hit the stumps. Muzarabani was then brought back before tea and took out Asghar Afghan’s off stump with a ball that jagged in and burst through the bat-pad gap. Zimbabwe could have had a seventh too when Abdul Wasi edged Donald Tiripano to second slip four balls before tea, but Ryan Burl could not hold on.

Still, Zimbabwe’s bowlers may have made sure that their batsmen may have done enough to win a Test by batting for just 72 overs, in which they totalled 250.

They started the day two runs ahead and extended that to 106 by lunch despite losing three wickets in the morning session. Things did not start well for Zimbabwe when Ibrahim Zadran had Burl given out lbw in the second over, but that brought the aggressive Chakabva to the crease. He ended Zadran’s over with back-to-back boundaries, pulling a short ball for four and then inside-edging one past the wicketkeeper for four more. Zadran only bowled one more over and Chakabva took the third boundary off it before Afghanistan went to spin from both ends and also welcomed back Yamin Ahmadzai, who had left the field late on the first day with what appeared to be an ankle injury.

But by that point, Chakabva had also smashed the only six of the innings by lofting Amir Hamza over long-on, and had scored 24 runs off the first 34 balls he faced. Williams’ approach had been watchful throughout, having got 11 runs in 22 balls in the morning before he had the opportunity to drive Ahmadzai through extra cover to start showing intent.

After demonstrating his back-foot play yesterday, Williams transitioned to shot-making off the front foot on the second morning, showing an ability to adapt and keep the runs coming. Ahmadzai thought he had Williams caught behind on 70 and there seemed to be a sound as well, but umpire Ahmed Shah Pakteen was unmoved.

The Williams-Chakabva partnership reached fifty when Chakabva hit Zahir Khan for two successive fours, as the pair looked comfortable at the crease while also navigating spin fairly well. But with less than 15 minutes to lunch, Khan drew Chakabva forward in an attempt to defend a ball that took the inside-edge onto the pad and to Malik at short leg.

With only the tail to come and Williams 14 away from a hundred, he pulled Khan through midwicket to enter the nineties, as three balls later, even Tiripano departed in a similar fashion to Chakabva. He also lunged at a ball he could not get to the pitch of and inside-edged to short leg. Williams was on 92 when he was joined by Muzarabani, who helped take the lead over a hundred with a heave over square leg. Williams reached his hundred in the third over after lunch but only scored five more runs before flicking Hamza straight to midwicket.

Hamza was the best of the Afghanistan bowlers and took 6 for 75 to bring up his second five-for in as many Tests.

Source – Cricinfo

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