Najibullah, bowlers inspire Afghanistan T20I series sweep
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Najibullah Zadran smashed 53 runs off the last 15 balls he faced to change the complexion of the game. (Abu Dhabi Cricket)
Najibullah Zadran smashed 53 runs off the last 15 balls he faced to change the complexion of the game. (Abu Dhabi Cricket)

AFGHANISTAN swept Zimbabwe 3-0 in their T20I series, closing out the final T20I with a 47-run victory.
Afghanistan, after opting to bat, posted 183/7 thanks to Najibullah Zadran’s brilliant 35-ball 72*. Zimbabwe were restricted to 136-5 in their response, giving the hosts a fine series victory.

They got off to a decent start after winning the toss thanks to Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Usman Ghani. Gurbaz (18) attempted to muscle the ball around, but found the fielders on multiple occasions, and it wasn’t long before he perished, to the left-arm quick Richard Ngarava, edging one behind.

Despite that, Afghanistan accumulated 43 runs in the Powerplay. Ghani was joined by Karim Janat in the middle. Janat made a quick 14-ball 21, but his efforts were put to a stop by Wellington Masakadza, who cleaned him up. Thereafter, Ghani (39) gave away his wicket attempting to go big, only to find the fielder in the deep.

Veteran Mohammad Nabi was dismissed cheaply for two runs thereafter, with Musakanda taking a diving catch. Zimbabwe couldn’t make the wickets count, however, with Najibullah in incredible form. His sublime 72 off 35 balls, which consisted of five fours and five sixes, along with Asghar Afghan’s 24 runs, propelled them to a daunting total, with Zimbabwe conceding 78 in the last five overs.

Zimbabwe got off to a poor start, when they lost Kamunhukamwe (1) in the very first over. Wickets continued to fall regularly, with Sean Williams (14), Musakanda (30), Milton Shumba (8), and Richmond Mutumbami (0) all falling tamely as Zimbabwe were reduced to 56-5 in 10.3 overs.

With half the side back in the dressing room, the 80-run-partnership of Sikander Raza and Ryan Burl helped control the damage. But it was too little too late for the visitors to avoid the sweep. (ICC)

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