Williams fifty sets up easy win for Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe 227 for 4 (Williams 70, Taylor 43, Raza 42*) beat Afghanistan 223 for 9 (Shenwari 65, Nabi 54, Chatara 2-37) by six wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Sean Williams' 65-ball 70 was the leading performance in Zimbabwe's comfortable six-wicket win against Afghanistan in Bulawayo that gave the hosts a 1-0 lead in the four-match ODI series.
Williams joined his captain Brendan Taylor in the middle when the team was still 135 runs adrift of the target and carefully set about building a solid foundation. His second scoring shot was a boundary, but he generally preferred rotating the strike in the first half of his innings, scoring at around a run a ball. It was only in the second half of the innings that he started opening up, first hitting consecutive boundaries off Dawlat Zadran to reach his 14th ODI half-century, then hitting two fours and a six to take Zimbabwe close. By the time he was dismissed, giving a return catch to Mohammad Nabi, Zimbabwe were only 18 short of the target.
It hadn't been a smooth start to the chase though. Playing their first ODI in over 10 months, Zimbabwe lost two early wickets of Vusi Sibanda and Hamilton Masakadza with only 27 runs on the board. Taylor and Sikandar Raza resisted and brought about the half-century of the partnership in the 18th over. They faced a minor flutter when Raza was retired hurt in the 22nd over, but a measured innings from Williams helped them through. Raza came back to bat at the fall of Williams and was unbeaten on 42 at the end.
Zimbabwe's decision to bowl brought immediate rewards in the morning as Donald Tiripano dismissed the 17-year-old opener Usman Ghani for 0 in the second over. Afghanistan's innings crawled along at around three runs an over after 20 overs as Tendai Chatara struck twice. Noor Ali Zadran, however, kept one end intact, scoring a painstaking 107-ball 43 before being run out in the 36th over. Afghanistan were yet to reach 100.
The innings took a turn for better as Mohammad Nabi and Samiullah Shenwari, who was unbeaten on 65, added 73 runs in 8.3 overs, with Nabi scoring a quick 32-ball 54 laced with three sixes and three fours. That injection of momentum helped Afghanistan add another 51 runs in 5.4 overs after the fall of Nabi to post a competitive 223, but it wasn't enough in the end as Zimbabwe chased down the target with 4.4 overs to spare.