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Player of the Match
Player of the Match

Zimbabwe hang on to clinch two-run thriller

Zimbabwe 196 (Taylor 89, Raza 60, Rashid 3-38, Mujeeb 3-49) beat Afghanistan 194 (Shah 69, Nabi 51, Muzarabani 4-47, Raza 3-40) by two runs

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WATCH - Bulawayo goes wild as Zimbabwe win thriller

Frantic shouting and singing filled up the atmosphere as the home team faithful rejoiced a two-run win over tournament favourites Afghanistan

A match that swung one way and then the other several times boiled down to an incredibly tense finish in Bulawayo, where Afghanistan's last wicket slowly whittled away at the target set by Zimbabwe. The Zadrans - Dawlat and Shapoor - had added 17 in 8.1 overs for the final wicket, bringing the equation down to three needed off four balls. But the half hour of unbearable tension finally ended in joy for Zimbabwe, as Brian Vitori drew the edge from Shapoor and wicketkeeper Brendan Taylor took the catch to seal a two-run victory.

The result left Zimbabwe well placed to progress from Group B, having won two out of two matches along with Scotland. Afghanistan, on the other hand, suffered their second defeat in as many games, and can afford no slip-ups against Nepal and Hong Kong if they are to make the Super Sixes.

For those asking here is the full video of Vitori taking the last wicket and @BrendanTaylor86 golden catch! WHAT A TEAM, WHAT A WIN! @ZimCricketv @GraemeCremer @Maru09Mw @sean14williams @PJMoor10 @kingsoly21 @Craig_Ervine77 #ZIMvAFG #CWCQ18 #CWCQ #Zimbabwe #bulawayo pic.twitter.com/kCQy1hQv2Y

— Merna Cremer (@MernaCremer767) March 6, 2018
The possibility of a Zimbabwe victory seemed remote after they had been dismissed for 196 in 43 overs. And more so after Rahmat Shah and Mohammad Nabi steered Afghanistan to 156 for 3 in the chase with a 98-run partnership.

Blessing Muzarabani gave Zimbabwe a small opening, trapping Shah for 69, and then Sikandar Raza turned the game on its head by striking three times in the 37th over. His dismissals of Nabi, Sharafuddin Ashraf and Rashid Khan reduced Afghanistan to 169 for 7. And when two more wickets fell cheaply, the visitors had lost 6 for 21 and all seemed lost.

Dawlat and Shapoor came together for the tenth wicket with Afghanistan needing 20 off 53 balls. They went about their task slowly, playing out plenty of dots as they eked out run after run, and victory - once so improbable - now was within sight. They stumbled eventually, only three runs from victory. Muzarabani's four-wicket haul was his career-best performance.

Before the Afghanistan collapse, Zimbabwe had been on the back foot for most part of the match. Electing to bat, they were set back immediately, losing their top three for just 17 in seven overs. Brendan Taylor and Raza revived the innings with counter attacking half-centuries and a 98-run stand.

Taylor smashed seven fours and three sixes in his 88-ball 89 before being the fifth wicket to fall. Then Rashid, Afghanistan's stand-in captain, dismissed the in-form Raza - he was coming off a century against Nepal - for a 68-ball 60. That triggered the innings' second collapse.

Barring Graeme Cremer, who stuck around to make an unbeaten 19, the other four lower-order batsmen quickly fell prey to Rashid and mystery spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman. Both these spinners finished with three wickets apiece. In total, Zimbabwe lost 7 for 118 to spin, while fast bowler Dawlat Zadran took two wickets.

As many as four Zimbabwe batsmen, including opener Cephas Zhuwao, who had made a belligerent 23-ball 41 against Nepal, were out without scoring. Their total of 196 seemed inadequate, until Afghanistan suffered a spectacular collapse of their own.

Afghanistan 2nd innings Partnerships

WktRunsPlayers
1st16Mohammad ShahzadIhsanullah
2nd19Mohammad ShahzadRahmat Shah
3rd23Nasir JamalRahmat Shah
4th98Mohammad NabiRahmat Shah
5th7Mohammad NabiNajibullah Zadran
6th0Najibullah ZadranSharafuddin Ashraf
7th6Najibullah ZadranRashid Khan
8th4Dawlat ZadranNajibullah Zadran
9th4Dawlat ZadranMujeeb Ur Rahman
10th17Shapoor ZadranDawlat Zadran

ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier (ICC Trophy)

Super Sixes
TEAMMWLPTNRR
WI54180.472
AFG53260.302
ZIM52250.420
SCOT52250.243
IRE52340.346
UAE5142-1.950
Group A
TEAMMWLPTNRR
WI44081.171
IRE43161.479
UAE4224-1.177
NL4132-0.709
PNG4040-0.865
Group B
TEAMMWLPTNRR
ZIM43071.035
SCOT43070.855
AFG41320.038
NEPAL4132-0.893
HKG4132-1.121