Bowlers Amir Hamza and Mohammed Nabi spinned their way through the Zimbabwean batting line-up to stun the full members of World cricket. The associate team of Afghanistan defeated Zimbabwe by 49-runs in a low-scoring contest, held at Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Christmas Day.

The result of the 1st One Day International between the two teams was something that no one had expected. Noor Ali Zadran scored a solid 63 runs, including 8 boundaries, as he was the lone soldier who helped Afghanistan march their way to a paltry 131/10 in 38.5 overs. Zimbabwe couldn’t take advantage of the fragile situation of the Asian team as they were bundled out for mere 82 runs. That was the lowest score defended by an Associate team against a Full Member.

The pitch at Sharjah was a spinner’s paradise. The wicket under the lights was something that cricketers usually see in the Indian subcontinent, lots of turn, making the life difficult for the batsmen.

Afghanistan, winning the toss, started of pretty well with the bat. The openers held their 30-run stand, just before Masakadza started the Afghanistan toppling. Nabi(17) tried to resist but gradually fell prey to the Zimbabwean bowlers trap. Captain Stanikzai (9) played the role of an anchor while giving away the strike to Zadran to keep the scoreboard ticking but even that couldn’t last long. One of those attempts of rotating the strike proved to be too costly as the captain fell short of crease while running between the wickets, throwing his crucial wicket away. A Cremer‘s 5 for 20 runs in his 9.5 over was the pick of the lot. His leg-break bowling was complemented with the turning surface, getting batsmen deceived and therefore, having more purchases from the wicket than anyone else. Except Zadran (63), Nabi (17), Najibullah Zadran (16), no other batsman was successful in crossing the double-digit mark for individual scores.

Supposed to be an easy chase which the full member team should had achieved eventually, Afghanistan had other plans. Zimbabwe never looked to be in the game as they were reduced to 12/3 in the initial stages of the game. The top-order toppled much faster than the Afghanistan bowlers would have ever thought. Only opener P Moor (21) and captain Chigumbura (28) were the ones whose approach kept the scoreboard ticking. Their batting partnership was the last hope that Zimbabwe had of winning the match. Spinners Amir Hamza (4/17) and Mohammed Nabi (3/15) were the people responsible for the Zimbabwean carnage. After Hamza removed opener Moor in the 17th over, Afghanistan became the clear favourites to win the match. Chigumbura couldn’t stand long on the crease and lost his wicket to spinner Nabi. Cremer (12 not out) tried to stretch his team’s innings but his mates on the other end kept losing wickets and eventually Zimbabwe lost the match by scoring just 82 runs as their total in 30.5 overs.

The second contest of the five-match ODI series will be held at the same venue on December 29.

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