Zimbabwe v Afghanistan, 1st ODI, Bulawayo

Zimbabwe look to shake off ODI rust

The Preview by Rachna Shetty

July 17, 2014

Comments: 28 | Text size: A | A

Match facts

Friday, July 18, 2014
Start time 0900 local (0700 GMT)

Brendan Taylor lofts during his 49, Netherlands v Zimbabwe, World T20, Group B, Sylhet, March 19, 2014
Brendan Taylor has stressed that Afghanistan will be tough competition © ICC
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Big Picture

It has been more than 10 months and a few days since Zimbabwe last played an ODI. Ten months ago, they were handed a drubbing by India before a 2-1 series loss to Pakistan and things, unfortunately, slid further downhill for them. The financial crisis within the board precipitated a player boycott that ate into the domestic season and forced tours to either be cancelled or deferred. The series against Afghanistan was one of the cancelled tours, originally scheduled to be held in January.

As things stand, the current series has many firsts. It is the first bilateral one-day series Afghanistan will play against a Test-playing nation. With the recent announcement of contracts, it will also be the first series where Zimbabwe's players will enjoy a rare financial certainty that was missing for most of last few months. The series against Afghanistan will kick off a season that will see Zimbabwe host South Africa and Australia, before the Bangladesh tour and then the World Cup next year. At a time when most teams are locking down their squads for the World Cup, Zimbabwe are just getting off the blocks in terms of their preparations and have to catch up quickly. Afghanistan are unlikely to make it easy for them.

The diverse bowling attack is easily one of the most impressive aspects of the Afghanistan side and their potential was on display when they beat hosts Bangladesh and troubled Sri Lanka and Pakistan in their maiden Asia Cup appearance. Their inconsistent batting, however, has been a let-down. Asghar Stanikzai and Gulbadin Naib's return may lend heft on paper, but some of that experience needs to show urgently at the crease.

Form guide

Zimbabwe LLWLL (completed matches only, most recent first)
Afghanistan WWLLW

In the spotlight

There has been talk that Zimbabwe Cricket may join the league of countries with different captains for different formats and a decision on this is likely to be taken before the South Africa series in August. Brendan Taylor has been the side's wicketkeeper and anchor batsman, and has juggled the leadership role since 2011. Over the last two years, however, his form has dipped. Astute captaincy against Afghanistan and a series win would only work in his favour.

At 17 years old, opening batsman Usman Ghani is the youngest in the Afghanistan squad but has made a quick transition from the Under-19 level to the senior ODI team. In six matches of the Under-19 World Cup earlier this year, he made 128 runs at a strike rate of 92.75 but was far more impressive in the ACC Premier League, where he scored 288 runs in five games. Two of his three fifties in the tournament came in his first two ODIs. He has already scored a fifty in the warm-up game against Zimbabwe A and Afghanistan will look to the youngster to provide a solid start.

Team news

Afghanistan tried out a different opening combination in the two practice games and had also given Dawlat Zadran a rest in the second. They are likely to bring in Noor Ali Zadran and Usman Ghani as openers. Left-arm spinner Sharafuddin Ashraf, who took 6 for 29 in the first warm-up game, could get an ODI debut.

Afghanistan (probable) 1 Noor Ali Zadran, 2 Usman Ghani, 3 Asghar Stanikzai, 4 Hashmatullah Shaidi, 5 Samiullah Shenwari, 6 Mohammad Nabi (capt), 7 Shafiqullah (wk), 8 Mirwais Ashraf/Gulbadin Naib, 9 Sharafuddin Ashraf, 10 Shapoor Zadran, 11 Dawlat Zadran/Aftab Alam

Zimbabwe have had exactly three days of international cricket so far this year, all T20s. They have been preparing for the series with an extensive training camp.

Zimbabwe (probable) 1 Sikandar Raza, 2 Vusi Sibanda, 3 Hamilton Masakadza, 4 Brendan Taylor (wk & capt), 5 Sean Williams, 6 Malcom Waller, 7 Elton Chigumbura, 8 Prosper Utseya/Natsai M'shangwe, 9 Brian Vitori, 10 Tendai Chatara, 11 Tinashe Panyangara

Stats and trivia

  • Four members of Afghanistan's current ODI squad - Hashmatullah Shaidi, Nasir Jamal, Sharafuddin Ashraf and Usman Ghani - played in the Under-19 World Cup earlier this year
  • In 14 games since the start of 2013, Vusi Sibanda has been Zimbabwe's most successful batsman, scoring 432 runs in 13 innings at an average of 36 with three fifties and a hundred
  • Samiullah Shenwari needs another 63 runs to become the third Afghanistan batsman to score 800 runs in ODIs


"They have good balance. Upfront they have good strikers [of the ball]. They also have seam bowlers who have done well with the new ball upfront. And also, every subcontinent country has good quality spinners. We have to respect them in all three departments."
Brendan Taylor, the Zimbabwe captain, says his team is not taking Afghanistan lightly

Rachna Shetty is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (July 18, 2014, 10:55 GMT)

m.nabi did well today he had played a captn inengs for afghanistan and insha allah afghanistan will win

Posted by   on (July 18, 2014, 9:46 GMT)

M Nabi is playing impressive innings but Afg team can't make big score, they will make respectable score Afg players should accelerate their strike rate in last 5 ovrs and as much as possible they make more runs.

Posted by   on (July 18, 2014, 8:58 GMT)

I am proud of afghanistan cricket team and inshallah afghanistan will be win this gam from zimbabwe

Posted by wapuser on (July 18, 2014, 8:37 GMT)

Afghanistan need to play cricket rather than fighting for survival... Noor Ali has the key for putting a respectable total...

Posted by bibimas on (July 18, 2014, 8:13 GMT)

Zim all the way...... Afghanistan will not win this one

Posted by   on (July 18, 2014, 7:14 GMT)

Salaam to all Afghanistan fans We know Afghanistan is better team if Afghanistan draw or level the series that is great achievement good luck Afghanistan .......

Posted by sohanpandey578 on (July 18, 2014, 5:57 GMT)

Hashmatullah Shaidi should open. He is most talented in AFG

Posted by DauD_ on (July 18, 2014, 5:51 GMT)

I'm a huge fan of the Afghanistan cricket team, but this will undoubtedly be a tough tour for them. Zimbabwe are a tough nation to beat at home, and are definitely the favourites coming into the series. However, Afghanistan are a talented side and do have the potential to play some good cricket. Who knows they may be able to pull off an upset or two in the series, and dare I say maybe even have a chance of winning/drawing the series.

Good luck to both teams.

Posted by   on (July 18, 2014, 4:47 GMT)

we will win our first series inshallah!

Posted by   on (July 18, 2014, 3:59 GMT)

as we know afghanistan is amazing team have so best new players like usman ghani sharafudin ashraf hashmatullah shaidi inshallah theay will play better and i think when they have this series in asia zimbabwe will never win any match

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