<
>

Zimbabwe draw level as Afghanistan misfire again

Zimbabwe 107 for 3 (Mire 46, Moor 36*) beat Afghanistan 111 (Mpofu 3-25) by seven wickets (D/L)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Solomon Mire and Peter Moor made light work of a rain-adjusted target of 105 in 42 overs, breaking the back of their run-chase in a 79-run opening stand to square the five-match series against Afghanistan, and set the teams up for a winner-takes-all showdown in Harare on Sunday.

After keeping the series alive in a thrilling three-run victory in Tuesday's third encounter, Zimbabwe drew level with considerably fewer nerves this time around, although they were once again indebted to the accurate seam of Chris Mpofu, who followed up his three-wicket haul in that match with 3 for 25 in 7.5 overs today as Afghanistan stumbled to 111 all out.

After winning the toss and batting first, Afghanistan's ambitions of a competitive total were dented from the outset by Tendai Chatara, who conceded a solitary run in his first three overs before extracting Ihsanullah for a 20-ball duck, caught at midwicket by Tarisai Musakanda.

Chatara then made it two in six balls when Rahmat Shah was bowled for 1, and one over later, Afghanistan had slumped to 12 for 3 when the dangerous Mohammad Shahzad tried to hit his way out of trouble, but instead slapped Richard Ngarava straight to midwicket for 9.

Asghar Stanikzai, the captain, and Hashmatullah Shahidi resisted for a while in adding 29 for the fourth wicket, but Zimbabwe's bowlers had the bit between their teeth. Mpofu accounted for both men in consecutive overs, both caught behind by Moor - the former a blinding take diving away to his right.

At 46 for 5, Graeme Cremer's legbreaks were exactly what Afghanistan's belligerent lower-order didn't want to face, and he twirled through an eight-over spell at the cost of just 12 runs to ensure there would be no recovery to Afghanistan's momentum. Samiullah Shenwari top-edged a sweep to Chatara at short fine leg for 13, before Moor held onto his third catch of the innings to dismiss Karim Janat for 9.

Afghanistan were reeling at 96 for 8 in the 35th over when rain forced a lengthy delay, and though they eked out a handful of extra runs upon resumption, Mpofu picked up his third when Rashid Khan holed out to cover to end the innings.

In reply, Mire and Moor started with intent, picking off regular boundaries to eat into the target, before Mire upped the ante with a pull for six off Janat to bring up Zimbabwe's fifty in the ninth over. He added a second two overs later, a meaty drill over the covers that required a replacement ball, and though he eventually holed out in the deep off Mohammad Nabi, his hard-hitting 46 from 50 balls had sealed the game.

Zimbabwe did wobble briefly, with Musakanda and Craig Ervine falling in consecutive overs, but with Moor steadfast, it was left to Sean Williams to complete a facile victory with almost 20 overs to spare.