Afghanistan – 111 all out in 38.5 overs (Asghar Stanikzai 19, Mohammad Nabi 17; Chris Mpofu 3/25, Graeme Cremer 2/12, Tendai Chatara 2/32)
Zimbabwe – 107 for 3 in 22.2 overs (Solomon Mire 46, PJ Moor 36*; Mohammad Nabi 2/11, Rashid Khan 1/27)
Zimbabwe won by seven wickets (Duckworth-Lewis)
Zimbabwe put in one of their best all-round performances today at Harare Sports Club to beat Afghanistan convincingly by seven wickets and draw level with the tourists at two victories each in the five-match one-day international series.
First Zimbabwe bowled the shell-shocked tourists out for a feeble innings of 111, and then a fine opening stand between Solomon Mire and PJ Moor made victory almost certain before a wicket fell.
Zimbabwe played an unchanged team for this match, deciding to give some of their under-performing batsmen another chance, but Afghanistan made three changes from their team which had thrown away the previous match.
Conditions were dry, but with rain possible later in the day, and Afghanistan decided to bat on winning the toss.
Ihsanullah, making his ODI début, opened the batting with Mohammad Shahzad, and they faced some good opening overs from Tendai Chatara and Richard Ngarava.
Afghanistan played out two maiden overs at the start, even Shahzad showing caution against fine bowling from Chatara.
From the start Zimbabwe were looking like a new team after their unexpected victory on Tuesday, while Afghanistan appeared to have lost the braggadocio which had characterised their batting in the first three matches.
After five overs there were only three runs on the board, all to Shahzad — and one of these came from a misfield.
Shahzad, unable to restrain himself any longer, drove the first ball of the sixth over straight to mid-off, only for Chris Mpofu to drop the chance. But it was another maiden over.
In the seventh over Ihsanulla, who faced 20 balls without scoring, tried to clip a ball from Chatara for runs on the leg side, but it went straight to Tarisai Musakanda at midwicket, who took the catch.
Afghanistan, in amazing contrast to their reckless batting in the previous match, were this time three for one in the seventh over.
Rahmat Shah pushed his first ball for a single on the off side, but that burst of energy was soon over, and the tentative play resumed.
In the ninth over, with the score still only six, Chatara produced a superb yorker that uprooted Shah’s off stump, for one.
Later in the over Shahzad finally unleashed a cut, and Solomon Mire missed a difficult overhead chance at backward point, allowing the batsmen to take three, bringing the score to 10 in the ninth over.
This encouraged Shahzad to start attacking again. He picked up another two runs, and then hammered a ball from Ngarava straight to midwicket.
He scored nine off 27 balls, perhaps his slowest ODI innings, and Afghanistan were 12 for three in the 10th over, despite two missed catches and two misfields.
In the 12th over came the first boundary of the innings, when Ngarava strayed down the leg side and Hashmatullah Shahidi glanced the ball for four.
This encouraged Asghar Stanikzai to swing at the next ball he faced, from Chatara, with a hint of desperation, but he managed to clear the cow-corner boundary for six.
The bowlers, into their seventh overs, were now tiring, especially Ngarava, who conceded 12 runs off his final over, as the batsmen now found the confidence to go for their strokes, and with success.
Mpofu replaced Chatara, and struck immediately, as Stanikzai (19) pushed at his first ball, outside the off stump, and he edged it to Moor, the wicketkeeper, who took a fine diving catch; 41 for four in the 15th over.
Shahidi seemed to be settling in for a good innings, but when he had 12 he threw it away, slashing at a ball from Chris Mpofu outside his off stump and edging Moor a straight-forward catch; 46 for five in the 17th over.
The team fifty came up at the end of the 18th over, with the five top batsmen out.
Samiullah Shenwari and Karim Janat then stood firm, scoring from ones and twos when they could, without being unduly defensive, but when Janat had seven Moor missed a stumping chance off Graeme Cremer, who was bowling with great skill opposite the pace of Mpofu.
In Cremer’s next over Shenwari (13) fatally swept, and sent a catch off the top edge to fine leg; 68 for six in the 26th over.
Cremer followed up with the wicket of Janat (9) in his next over, as he groped forward and was caught at the wicket for two; 71 for seven in the 28th over.
A slight drizzle began from a now overcast sky as Mohammad Nabi and Gulbadin Naib dug in, and finally the umpires took the players from the field after 32 overs, with the score 89 for seven.
Play was interrupted for almost half an hour, and when they restarted the weather remained very threatening.
The batsmen continued with some confidence before Mire caught Nabi (17) unawares with a faster ball that rose, took the shoulder of his bat and sent a catch to point; 95 for eight in the 35th over.
Mire bowled the new batsman, Rashid Khan, a high bouncer that was naturally called ‘wide,’ and at this point the rain returned, more heavily, and the players again left the field at 96 for eight.
An early lunch was taken – it took just over an hour and a half before play got under way again, and the match was reduced to 42 overs per side.
Naib and Khan brought up the team hundred after 36 overs, but at 103 some brilliant fielding by Malcolm Waller took advantage of a mix-up between the batsmen, and Naib was run out for 10.
Finally Khan, trying to keep the strike, drove a catch to extra cover for 11 and the innings was completed, in the 39th over, for 111.
The innings was notable for superb bowling, timid batting and enthusiastic but not always reliable fielding.
Mpofu had the best figures of three for 25, while Chatara took two for 32 and Cremer two for 12 off eight overs.
No Afghan batsman reached 20, with Stanikzai’s 19 the highest individual score.
This was the lowest total Afghanistan have scored against Zimbabwe, apart from the 58 they made at Sharjah in January 2016, when Luke Jongwe took five wickets for six runs.
Zimbabwe’s target was recalculated to 105 off 42 overs, according to the Duckworth-Lewis calculation for a rain-shortened match.
Fortunately Mire and Moor, the Zimbabwe opening batsmen, did not chase the relatively simple target with the same reckless abandon that was shown by Afghanistan in the previous match.
They played themselves in wisely and then set about taking runs as the opportunities arose, without trying to force the pace unnecessarily.
Mire, on 12, had a little good fortune as he pulled a short ball from Janat just over the head of mid-on to the boundary.
Runs came at an increasing rate, quite safely, and Moor swung a short ball from Janat over the long-leg boundary to bring up the fifty in the ninth over.
When Mire hit Naib for two fours and a huge straight six to the top of the media centre, the Afghan fielders notably wilted.
Mire tried to reach his fifty with a straight six off Nabi, but only succeeded in sending up a huge skyer that was well held at long-on.
He scored 46 off 50 balls, with five fours and two sixes; Zimbabwe were 79 for one wicket in the 15th over.
Now Zimbabwe seemed to be losing their way, as Musakanda scored just four runs, beaten and bowled by Khan’s googly; 83 for two.
This was followed by Craig Ervine (1), edging a drive to the keeper off Nabi; 84 for three.
Afghanistan had already taken some of the gilt of Zimbabwe’s victory, and they now worked hard for more wickets, although only 21 more runs were needed.
Moor and Sean Williams now had to play cautiously to prevent any further breakthrough, and it took almost another six overs before Williams played reverse-sweep for four off Nabi to take Zimbabwe home.
Moor finished unbeaten with 36, and Williams with 16.
The final match in the series will take place at Harare Sports Club on Sunday, with the score two victories to each side.
If Zimbabwe can maintain their momentum, they should win the series after coming from two-nil down in glorious fashion, but Afghanistan will most likely put up a much stronger fight.
Zimbabwe – 129 all out in 32.4 overs (Tarisai Musakanda 60, Malcolm Waller 36*; Gulbadin Naib 4/27, Rashid Khan 3/29, Fareed Ahmad 2/19)
Afghanistan – 126 all out in 29.3 overs (Asghar Stanikzai 31, Samiullah Shenwari 29; Sean Williams 3/15, Chris Mpofu 3/24, Tendai Chatara 3/30)
Zimbabwe won by three runs
Zimbabwe clinched one of their most astonishing victories at Harare Sports Club today when they beat Afghanistan by the narrow margin of three runs.
After their innings of 129, thanks to Tarisai Musakanda and Malcolm Waller and no other player, nobody, including themselves, could have given the home side any serious hope of winning.
But they bowled and fielded very well, and were greatly helped by the overconfident approach of Afghanistan, who in the end could only blame themselves for their shock defeat.
Zimbabwe made one change to their team, replacing Hamilton Masakadza with Sean Williams, who has now passed his fitness test.
The weather was largely overcast, with a possibility of rain later in the day, and the pitch had a moderate amount of grass on it — not that it often makes much difference at Harare Sports Club.
Zimbabwe won the toss for the first time in the series and, after losing two run-chases, decided to bat first.
The bowlers did find some swing at the start, if little off the seam, and PJ Moor and Solomon Mire, though obviously keen to get the score moving, found it difficult to do that and had to rely mainly on quick singles.
They had only nine on the board in the fourth over when Mire (4) drove at a ball from Fareed Ahmad and edged it to first slip.
Moor and Musakanda took the score to 26, most of it a struggle, before Moor (11) fatally miscued a pull to midwicket; 26 for two in the 10th over.
Craig Ervine drove at the very next ball, but only played it on to his stumps via the inside edge.
Williams made five before he slashed a short ball straight to gully, to make the score 34 for four in the 14th over.
The slide continued, as Burl cut a ball from Naib high over the slips, but straight into the hands of third man; 40 for five in the 16th over.
The three left-handers that gave such a strong appearance to Zimbabwe’s middle order had made just nine runs between them, and to all appearances Zimbabwe faced total disaster.
Musakanda, however, was still there and fighting hard, bringing up the fifty in the 18th over with two boundaries off Naib.
Malcolm Waller also began to take the attack to the bowlers, mostly with the sweep against the spinners, and suddenly the batting looked confident and capable.
This positive policy worked so well that the partnership reached 50 in just over eight overs, and the hundred came up in the 26th over.
In the following over Musakanda reached a greatly acclaimed fifty off 64 balls, his first in an ODI.
They put on 81 together before Musakanda miscued a pull from Ahmad and was caught easily at midwicket for 60 off 70 balls, with six fours and a six; Zimbabwe were now 121 for six in the 30th over.
Graeme Cremer uncharacteristically threw his wicket away without scoring, charging down the pitch to Rashid Khan and missing the ball, to be easily stumped.
Tendai Chatara fell first ball, edging a ball into the slips, and the score had plunged to 122 for eight.
Richard Ngarava, who at least had the excuse of inexperience, drove a catch to long-on without scoring, and the last man Chris Mpofu scored a single before scooping a catch to fine leg, to give a total of 129 in less than 33 overs.
This left the admirable Waller stranded on 36 not out (45 balls), having been totally failed by the batting of the last four Zimbabwe batsmen, who all surrendered their wickets for just one run off only 12 balls.
Nine of the Zimbabwe team surrendered their wickets for only 24 runs between them.
Naib finished with four wickets for 27, while Khan took three wickets and Ahmad two. Apart from Musakanda and Waller, they never had it easier.
They were out more than an hour before lunch was due, so there was time for Afghanistan to start their innings.
They were none too careful from the start, as Mohammad Shahzad lashed out at his second ball, from Chatara, and skyed the ball towards long-on, and Waller, running back at full speed, was just unable to reach the catch.
It was a foretaste of things to come, a complacency that was to cost the tourists the match.
Noor Ali Zadran shared the mood of carelessness, popping his first ball from Ngarava towards mid-on, for Cremer to run across and complete the catch; six for one.
Shahzad continued to bat rather recklessly, and when he had made 20 he holed out on the midwicket boundary off the bowling of Chatara; 27 for two after five overs.
Off the next ball Rahmat Shah sliced a ball to the boundary at backward point, but it was very nearly a chance to Waller, who again could not quite reach it in time – on neither occasion was he to blame.
Ngarava, the bowler, again bowled far too many short balls, many of which were punished by the batsmen; his final figures were to be one for 37 off only five overs.
Rahmat Shah batted with more discretion, but he was out for 10 when Chatara produced a fine delivery that flew off his glove to Mire at point; 39 for three in the ninth over.
Now that it really appeared to be too late, barring near-miracles, the Zimbabwe team was fired up and eager for more wickets.
The batsmen continued their rather risky aggression, though, and the fifty came up after 10 overs.
Lunch was taken at the usual time, with Afghanistan on 63 for three wickets, Asghar Stanikzai on 26 and Samiullah Shenwari five.
After the break Afghanistan kept up an aggressive approach without much in the way of recklessness, until Stanikzai slashed at a ball from Chatara outside his off stump and was caught at the wicket for 31; 74 for four.
After that a steadier and more disciplined approach prevailed for a while.
Chatara bowled his 10 overs without a break, on either side of lunch, and finished with figures of three for 30 for his fine efforts.
The hundred came up in the 22nd over, as Naib hit a rare pitched-up ball from Ngarava for four through extra cover.
The batsmen seemed to be cruising easily towards victory, so it was a surprise when Naib (16) popped a low return catch to Williams; 107 for five.
Shenwari then pulled a ball from Mpofu that landed just out of reach of the two fielders on the leg boundary.
At 121 for five wickets, it seemed as if Afghanistan were virtually home and dry.
Shenwari then fished at a ball from Mpofu outside his off stump and was caught by the wicketkeeper for 29; 121 for six.
Najibullah Zadran had a big swing at his first ball and sent up a huge skyer, which was well held by Moor running round to point, and remarkably Afghanistan were 121 for seven.
Then Nabi, who had 11, stepped back to try an ill-advised drive to a straight ball from Williams and only succeeded in playing the ball on to his stumps; 124 for eight.
In the next over Mpofu bowled a bouncer to Khan (2), who fatally hooked, only to get a top edge through to the keeper.
The score was 124 for nine, with six runs still needed to win, and Zimbabwe were on the verge of an incredible victory.
A misfield allowed Amir Hamza to score two runs through the covers.
However, he sliced the next delivery to backward point and Zimbabwe had won a match they never looked likely to claim after their dismal batting.
The last five Afghan wickets had fallen for just five runs, and the tourists had learnt a serious lesson: the match is not over until the fat lady sings.
The Player of the Match award was shared between Chatara and Williams, which was very hard on Musakanda, who played a superb innings of 60 with no support apart from Waller.
Chatara and Williams had indeed bowled well to take three wickets each, as indeed did Mpofu.
But they were helped by the reckless overconfidence of the Afghan batsmen, which suddenly became panic at the end of the innings when their tail-enders went in completely unprepared mentally for batting.
Musakanda, however, despite his youth and inexperience, had played a superb innings of 60 with no support from anybody else except Waller — in fact he scored exactly half his team’s runs in the match — and without these two Zimbabwe would have been dismissed for 33.
The Zimbabwe team should have gained greatly in confidence from this stunning victory, and if they play to their true ability they can still go on and win the series.
The Afghans, however, should have learned a very sharp cricket lesson and are unlikely to commit such a crime against the game again.
The series is unexpectedly still open, and the fourth match in the series takes place at Harare Sports Club on Friday.
Afghanistan – 238 for 9 in 50 overs (Mohammad Shahzad 64, Rahmat Shah 53, Najibullah Zadran 45; Tendai Chatara 3/36, Graeme Cremer 2/37, Richard Ngarava 2/43)
Zimbabwe – 184 all out in 42.1 overs (Solomon Mire 54, Craig Ervine 34, Ryan Burl 27; Rashid Khan 3/25, Mohammad Nabi 3/38, Gulbadin Naib 2/38, Amir Hamza 2/40)
Afghanistan won by 54 runs
When Solomon Mire was hammering the Afghan bowlers for a superb fifty at the start of the Zimbabwe innings at Harare Sports Club today, it seemed that the home side may have been on course for a fine victory, weather permitting.
The weather may have permitted, but the Zimbabwe middle-order batsmen did not.
They were in command until the fall of their fourth wicket, when they needed 100 more runs with seven batsmen still in hand.
Yet again, though, a lack of cricketing wisdom and fight betrayed the home side, who slid steadily downhill to another defeat, this one by 54 runs.
For Zimbabwe, Sikandar Raza injured his leg at practice yesterday and was replaced by Hamilton Masakadza, who has now passed his fitness test.
The Afghanistan team was unchanged.
As in the first match, Afghanistan won the toss and decided to bat on a warm, partly cloudy morning, with rain expected later during the day.
However, there was more grass left on the pitch for this match, but the tourists evidently decided to risk it giving help to the seam bowlers and put their trust in Duckworth-Lewis, which had served them so well on Thursday.
Zimbabwe opened their attack with Tendai Chatara and Richard Ngarava, who bowled with good accuracy, but they lost a golden opportunity when Noor Ali Zadran, on two, hit a relatively simple return catch to Chatara, who dropped it.
The opening pair went on to make 34 together in exactly 10 overs, at which point Zadran tried to hook a bouncer from Ngarava and was given out caught at the wicket for 14.
Zadran’s opening partner, the antagonistic opening batsman and wicketkeeper Mohammad Shahzad, was more restrained than usual, and the bowlers did well to keep him relatively quiet.
Chris Mpofu and Solomon Mire, however, again tended to bowl too short and gave away too many runs off these deliveries.
The team fifty came up in the 15th over, Rahmat Shah the new batsman, but soon afterwards Shahzad, on 32, skyed a ball beyond extra cover and Tarisai Musakanda running hard almost brought off a brilliant catch.
Shahzad went to 50 off 68 balls and the team hundred came up after 23 overs, with just one wicket down.
The pair added 84 for the second wicket before Shahzad missed a sweep against Graeme Cremer and had his leg stump knocked down for 64, scored off 87 balls; 118 for two after 27 overs.
Asghar Stanikzai, who had done so well on Thursday, this time struggled to six off 20 balls, when he tried to hit Cremer for six over long-off, and Musakanda held the ball well on the boundary; 139 for three in the 33rd over.
Later in the same over Shah, now joined by Mohammad Nabi, reached his fifty off 62 balls, but was then trapped lbw by Chatara for 53; 149 for four in the 35th over.
Nabi had 18 when he clipped a ball from Chatara straight to midwicket, where Cremer dropped the chance.
He celebrated by hitting a ball from Waller for a huge six on top of the players’ pavilion.
Ngarava also developed a fancy for the short stuff, although he did eventually achieve success as Nabi (33) tried to hook a bouncer and edged it to the keeper; 194 for five in the 44th over.
The 200 was reached in the 45th over.
Najibullah Zadran hit Mpofu for a big six into the stands, but Gulbadin Naib (5), trying to do the same, gave Musakanda another catch in the deep.
At 215 Rashid Khan (3) slashed at a ball from Chatara and was caught at the wicket.
Najibullah Zadran now opened his shoulders and attacked the bowling in fine style, hitting Mpofu and Chatara for sixes in quick succession, but he was not so good against the short ball, and skyed a catch into the covers off a short one from Chatara off the penultimate ball of the innings.
He scored 45 off 46 balls and gave Afghanistan the impetus they needed in the final overs.
The steady loss of wickets at the end meant that the final total was 238 for nine wickets, less than they would have hoped, but still more than the target they had successfully defended on Thursday.
Chatara finished with three wickets, and there were two each for Cremer, who also bowled particularly well, and Ngarava.
Unfortunately the Zimbabwe performance was spoiled somewhat by some poor fielding, mainly dropped catches and overthrows conceded.
The weather was sunny as Zimbabwe began their innings, with no sign yet of approaching rain.
Mire, after his nervous innings on Thursday, began the Zimbabwe innings by taking two fours and a three off the opening over from Dawlat Zadran.
This time it was PJ Moor who looked uncertain, but he wisely did not try to force the pace and left it to Mire to make the running, which he did in fine style.
The team fifty came up in the ninth over, of which Mire had 41.
Mire reached his fifty off 49 balls with a straight six off Naib.
He certainly hit the loose ball powerfully, but did not neglect sound defence against the good balls.
Perhaps he now lost concentration, though, as he seemed to lose intent before he drove at a googly from Khan, his first ball, and was bowled through the gate for 54.
It was the 15th over and the opening partnership had put on 60 together; Moor at this stage had 14.
As thunder could be heard, Moor soon followed, as he groped outside the off stump to a ball from Naib and was not happy to be given out caught at the wicket for 17; he was given an unpleasant send-off by some of the Afghan fielders.
The score was now 73 for two in the 16th over.
Craig Ervine and Hamilton Masakadza now had to play themselves in and rebuild the innings.
Masakadza, however, made only five, adjudged lbw to Rashid’s googly although he seemed to be hit outside the line of the off stump; 84 for three after 19 overs, and the balance was swinging back towards Afghanistan.
Ryan Burl joined Ervine, and the hundred came up in the 24th over, with Zimbabwe slightly ahead on Duckworth-Lewis; the rain was not far away.
A drizzle started, and the tactics of the batsmen now were to stay ahead of the Duckworth-Lewis requirement and above all not to get out, as had happened on Thursday and cost Zimbabwe the match.
They did a good job while 55 runs were put on, and then Ervine drove a low catch into the covers off Naib, out for 34; Zimbabwe were 139 for four in the 32nd over and, so well had the pair batted, that they were still four runs ahead on Duckworth-Lewis, and the rain had receded.
The new batsman, Tarisai Musakanda, put Zimbabwe further ahead by driving Naib for six over long-on.
From Zimbabwe’s point of view, it was sad that rain did not come at this point, because from here everything went downhill in alarming fashion as the middle order threw away the match.
Burl was out in most disappointing fashion, playing a most uncharacteristic heave across the line to a ball from Nabi which kept rather low, missing and being comprehensively bowled.
He made an otherwise good 27, and Zimbabwe, at 150 for five in the 34th over, were now three runs behind on Duckworth-Lewis and the match was swinging back to Afghanistan.
When Malcolm Waller (4) hit a return catch to Amir Hamza and Musakanda was stumped for seven, in quick succession — 157 for seven in the 36th over — it was clear that Zimbabwe had lost their chance and were on their way to another defeat, barring a miracle.
Tendai Chatara was bowled for four, while Mpofu skied a catch without scoring.
Ngarava showed that he has potential to bat higher than number 11, by driving the first ball he faced in international cricket for six.
He looks much more capable with the bat than Chatara and Mpofu, who are both naturals at number 11 at present.
Cremer put up a good fight with the bat, and the last wicket added a plucky but futile 16 together before Ngarava was caught at long-off for 10, leaving Cremer not out with 14.
The Zimbabwe total was 184.
From the fall of the fourth wicket, six batsmen went out for just 29 runs.
Of the Afghan bowlers, Khan and Nabi took three wickets apiece, and there were two each for Hamza and Naib.
The Zimbabwe players will take little comfort in the knowledge that once again they played well below their potential.
The third match in the five-match series will take place at Harare Sports Club on Tuesday.
Afghanistan – 215 all out in 49.2 overs (Asghar Stanikzai 50, Noor Ali Zadran 39, Rashid Khan 32; Graeme 3/46, Tendai Chatara 2/17, Chris Mpofu 2/45)
Zimbabwe – 99 for 4 in 27.2 overs (Craig Ervine 38*, Ryan Burl 28; Gulbadin Naib 1/12, Rashid Khan 1/17, Amir Hamza 1/17)
Afghanistan A won by 12 runs (Duckworth-Lewis)
Zimbabwe were unfortunate to lose the first One-Day International to Afghanistan at Harare Sports Club today after a particularly good bowling performance had enabled them to bowl the visitors out for 215 in the morning.
Unfortunately their top-order batsmen did not handle a somewhat difficult pitch well enough, but they were still in with a good chance of victory when rain destroyed the match in mid-afternoon.
The Zimbabwe team lacked five players who had failed their stringent fitness tests, and this opened the way for the left-handed batsman Ryan Burl and left-arm pace bowler Richard Ngarava to make their debuts after impressive performances for Zimbabwe A.
Ngarava has yet to play first-class cricket.
Solomon Mire also made a return to the Zimbabwe team, his first appearance for the national team in a home match.
The morning was warm and sunny, although very liable to change, so Afghanistan decided to bat on winning the toss.
The pitch looked flat, with little grass, and had some bounce, but the slowness did not make it ideal for batting.
Tendai Chatara bowled the first over to Mohammad Shahzad, who lashed his fourth delivery through the covers for four, and repeated the treatment when he faced Ngarava, who responded with a well-bowled bouncer.
Shahzad then slashed at the fourth ball of the over, and was well caught by Chris Mpofu right on the midwicket boundary for eight; 10 for one in the second over.
Rahmat Shah might well have been caught in the gully off a lifting ball from Ngarava before he had scored, but took a single, and off the following delivery Noor Ali Zadran skyed a hook that fell just short of deep fine leg.
It was fine bowling by the Zimbabwe seamers, backed by some tight but not infallible fielding, making the Afghan batsmen fight to survive and to score.
After 10 overs the score was 28 for one.
When Mpofu and Mire took over the bowling, they did a fair job, although both bowled too short at times, but runs began to come more quickly and the fifty came up in the 15th over.
After this the batsmen looked to score more quickly, and between they scored 10 off an over from Mpofu.
Ngarava replaced him, opposite Cremer now, and again showed his quality as he troubled the batsmen.
Cremer achieved the breakthrough, though, as Shah (31) tried to drive him for six, but only sent up a skyer to backward point; 77 for two in the 20th over.
Asghar Stanikzai came out swinging, though, and hit Cremer for a two and a six off the remaining three balls in the over.
Cremer soon reasserted himself, though, teasing both batsmen and gaining his reward when he trapped Zadran lbw for 39; 97 for three in the 25th over.
The left-handed Hashmatullah Shahidi came in, and the hundred came up after the 27th over.
Stanikzai continued to attack, but Shahidi on 11 was dropped by Chatara on the long-leg boundary, the ball also travelling for four.
There were several other instances of Afghan batsmen miscuing the ball, but having the good fortune to evade the fielders – the slowness of the pitch may well have been the cause.
Shahidi was run out for 21 as Stanikzai called him for a quick single to reach his fifty, only for Mpofu to run him out superbly as he followed through quickly off his own bowling; 156 for four after 39 overs.
Stanikzai reached a fine fifty off 56 balls, but off the next delivery he faced, from Raza, he holed out to deep midwicket; 158 for five in the 40th over.
The new batsmen struggled to score, and Mohammad Nabi went for six as he sent up a huge skyer off Mpofu that was well taken by Mire at long-on; 167 for six in the 43rd over.
Gulbadin Naib (one) popped a gentle return catch to Cremer, and at 169 for seven Zimbabwe were controlling the game.
Najibullah Zadran and Rashid Khan fought back for a while, until Zadran was well caught by Burl at deep midwicket off Mpofu for 11; 192 for eight in the 47th over.
In the following over Chatara had Dawlat Zadran caught at the wicket for two (195 for nine), but a snick to the boundary by Khan in the 49th over brought up the 200.
Khan laid into the inexperienced Ngarava, pulling him for two huge sixes, but he then tried to drive the second ball of the final over for another six, but only skyed it to long-on.
Khan was out for 32 off 18 balls, and the Afghan total was 215.
Cremer took three wickets for 46, and there were two each to Chatara and Mpofu.
On paper the target for Zimbabwe was none too difficult, but they would have to adjust their batting to suit the pitch.
Zimbabwe opened their batting with PJ Moor and Mire, against the bowling of the left-arm spinner Amir Hamza and the seamer Dawlat Zadran.
Moor hit two successive fours in Zadran’s first over, but Mire never looked comfortable, and scored two runs off 11 balls before being adjudged lbw to Hamza; 15 for one in the fifth over.
Moor, like some of the Afghan batsmen, was too eager to try a six-hit on this pitch, and with 18 off 20 balls he unwisely holed out at long-on off the bowling of Nabi, who had replaced Zadran.
At 21 for two in the sixth over, Craig Ervine and Raza now had to rebuild the innings.
They did so steadily for a while, until Raza miscued an attempt pull off the medium-pacer Naib and lobbed a catch to mid-on for 12; 44 for three in the 15th over, and the match was in the balance.
Burl now joined Ervine, and the two left-handers concentrated on steady play and well-placed ones and twos to keep the score ticking over.
Rain threatened, and Zimbabwe were marginally ahead on Duckworth-Lewis when Burl missed a spinning ball from Khan and was adjudged lbw for 28; 99 for four in the 28th over.
At this point the drizzle became heavier and the players left the field, with Afghanistan now leading by 13 runs according to Duckworth-Lewis.
Ervine, who had played a wise, well-paced innings, was unbeaten with 38, and may well have led his team to victory had he had the opportunity.
It had been hoped to restart the match at 4.30, but the Afghans complained about a damp area near the square, which no doubt they would have ignored had they been the team in arrears.
To the annoyance of the crowd, the ground staff tried to dry it further, but they failed, and the light worsened, which meant that the match was abandoned just after five o’clock, with Afghanistan declared the victors.