Zimbabwe have lost their first three matches and have already crashed out of the tri-nation series. They have nothing, but pride to play for. Bangladesh slapped them with a 39-run defeat at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chattogram. The result of the match also made sure that Afghanistan and the Tigers book themselves a spot in the final of the series on September 24 in Mirpur, Dhaka.
But the contest holds significance for Zimbabwe. The same is for the reason that it’s their skipper Hamilton Masakadza’s last appearance in international cricket. He donned the national colours for the maiden time way back in 2001 and has nearly 9,500 runs at the highest level. Zimbabwe’s last league match is versus the rampant Afghanistan on Thursday, September 20 in Chattogram itself.
The task won’t be easy by any means, but his teammates would be hoping to give the veteran a fitting farewell. The Afghans, on the other hand, seem unstoppable for the time being, after their 12-match winning streak in the format. Rashid Khan and Co have dominated in their first two matches in Dhaka and are comfortably placed at the top of the table with a Net Run Rate as high as +1.325.
Zimbabwe’s batting has been a bit of a concern, especially at the top. Brendan Taylor has tried to throw the kitchen sink at everything, but with very little success. Masakadza would want to sign off on a grand note. Sean Williams has threatened to take wickets, but he has been awful with the bat in hand. The southpaw has four runs from three matches at a rather forgettable average of 1.33.
Mutumbami deserves a promotion in the order after his 54 in the last game. Ryan Burl hasn’t done anything of sorts after tormenting the Tigers in the opening match. In the bowling department, Kyle Jarvis has picked five wickets. Tinotenda Mutumbodzi got his first chance to bowl after two games and he did well right away, picking up a wicket in this three-over spell, conceding only 17 runs.
Brendan Taylor (wk), Hamilton Masakadza (C), Regis Chakabva, Sean Williams, Tinotenda Mutumbodzi, Ryan Burl, Richmond Mutumbami, Neville Madziva, Kyle Jarvis, Chris Mpofu, Ainsley Ndlovu
The Afghans are likely to bring in a couple of changes after going in with an unchanged eleven in their previous match. Karim Janat has looked a tad off colour and he may make way for the experienced Dawlat Zadran. Sharafuddin Ashraf is a handy left-arm spinner and he can be given a chance in place of Mujeeb Ur Rahman. He also has the potential to churn out some big strokes.
In batting, Hazratullah has underperformed a wee bit and he’ll be keen to get his rhythm back. Nabi has been their most consistent performer, especially with the willow. Rahmanullah Gurbaz has shown immense promise, albeit he got out on a duck in the previous game after his 43. Rashid has been spot-on, both in bowling and captaincy. Asghar and Najibullah have done their bit as well.
Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), Hazratullah Zazai, Najeeb Tarakai, Asghar Afghan, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Gulbadin Naib, Karim Janat/Dawlat Zadran, Rashid Khan (C), Fareed Malik, Mujeeb Ur Rahman/Sharafuddin Ashraf
Focus will be on
Hamilton Masakadza (Zimbabwe)
All eyes will be on Hamilton Masakadza, wearing the Zimbabwe jersey one last time. In the series, he has gotten a couple of starts, scoring 34 and 25, both versus the Tigers. Against the Afghans, he perished to a run-out for only three after a mix-up with Taylor. The skipper can now play freely and display his range of shots and hopefully end his career with a win in Zimbabwe’s last league game.
Mohammad Nabi (Afghanistan)
Mohammad Nabi doesn’t bat in the top order, yet he is currently the leading run-scorer of the series with 122 runs at a strike-rate of 169.44. It shows how much he has been able to dictate terms to the opposition. The unbeaten knock of 84 he got versus Bangladesh would keep him in good stead. With the ball, he has an economy of five in four overs, though he is yet to get amongst the wickets.
TV – Star Sports Select 2
Match Timings – 18:00 IST and 18:30 local
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