It has been barely a week into the World T20 and we already have a final to look forward to. Well, a final of sorts as a well-drilled Afghanistan side take on Zimbabwe in a shootout for a place among the World T20 elite.
The Full Member, however, does not start as favorites. Zimbabwe have been sloppy at times in the tournament so far jostling to victories over Hong Kong and Scotland while Afghanistan, ranked ninth and two places above their opponents, have posted emphatic wins under the guidance of coach Inzamam Ul-Haq.
Afghanistan have looked in solid form with a consistent batting order, particularly the top three batsmen who have been aggressive upfront with scores 68 for 0 and 79 for 1 in the first 10 overs of their last two games. They will face their biggest challenge against a Zimbabwe bowling attack who tend to squeeze the flow of runs early on. Mohammad Shahzad, Noor Ali Zadran and Asghar Stanikzai will have to negotiate the threat posed by the seamers as well as left-arm spinner Wellington Masakadza.
Given their erratic performances so far, Zimbabwe may consider strengthening their batting with the inclusion of either wicketkeeper-batsman Peter Moor or allrounder Chamu Chibhabha in the middle order. Hamilton Masakadza, their star batsman, who has been run out in both the first two games, will have to step up in a potential final against Afghanistan. The good news is Vusi Sibanda, who needed four stitches on his chin, and did not take the field in the chase, after colliding with Masakadza while attempting a quick single on Thursday, has been passed fit to play.
Zimbabwe: Hamilton Masakadza, Vusi Sibanda, Richmond Mutumbami (wk), Sean Williams, Sikandar Raza, Chamu Chibhabha/Malcolm Waller, Elton Chigumbura, Donald Tiripano, Wellington Masakadza, Tinashe Panyangara, Tendai Chatara
Afghanistan: Mohammad Shahzad (wk), Noor Ali Zadran, Asghar Stanikzai (capt), Mohammad Nabi, Gulbaddin Naib, Shafiqullah, Dawlat Zadran, Najibullah Zadran, Samiullah Shemwari, Rashid Khan, Hamid Hassan/Amir Hamza