INNOCENT Kaia scored his maiden T20I half century yesterday but the Chevrons’ poor form against Afghanistan continued when they lost the T20I series to the visitors at the Harare Sports Club, with a game to spare.
The Zimbabweans fell to a 21-run defeat in the decisive match despite a promising late cameo with the bat by Sikandar Raza.
Player of the match Fazalhaq Farooqi and Rashid Khan helped the visitors claim an unassailable 2-0 following their good work with the ball. Afghanistan won the toss and elected to bat first, putting 170/5 on the board. Najibullah Zadran top scored with 57 runs and their captain Mahomad Nabi ensured they posted a competitive score late on when he chipped in with an unbeaten 43 runs from 22 balls.
His knock included four sixes and one boundary, as Afghanistan managed to stay on course despite losing some wickets earlier on. They were three down or 46 after 5.1 overs.
Darwish Rasooli (12) also retired hurt with the scoreboard on 51 runs. But the middle-order managed to hold shape before Nabi came in to accelerate the run rate.
Zimbabwe missed one of their key players Blessing Muzarabani through injury yesterday. Tendai Chatara took 2-32 while there was a wicket each for Luke Jongwe and Ryan Burl.
Burl was Zimbabwe’s most economical bowler, returning 1-15 from his three overs. The all-rounder could not replicate his form the previous day when he claimed 3-14, in the six-wicket defeat they suffered in the first T20I.
Zimbabwe’s response was not smooth yesterday. Opener Kaia was running out of partners at the top after Wessly Madhevere (8) departed early, trapped lbw by Farooqi.
Tadiwanashe Marumani contributed 30 runs from 22 balls before presenting a return catch to Nabi for Afghanistan’s second wicket. Skipper Craig Ervine (2) only lasted two balls before he was sent back to the pavillion.
Then Raza teamed up with Kaia and the duo notched up a 70-run partnership for the fourth wicket. Raza’s knock restored some faint hopes for the hosts with four sixes and one boundary for his 41 runs, which came off 21 balls.
But Khan turned the game on its head when he bowled out Raza before accounting for Burl, two balls apart in the 18th over. Regis Chakabva (8) couldn’t stay long before Kaia became the last wicket to fall via an unfortunate run out.
Zimbabwe eventually ended their chase on 149/7 in 20 overs. With Afghanistan now having bagged the series, the last match set for tomorrow has been reduced to a dead rubber.
Zimbabwe have found the going tough in this series after losing the ODI series 3-0.