Afghanistan took on Zimbabwe in the 1st of the two test matches in the Sheikh Zayed stadium at Abu Dhabi.
After winning the toss , home team Afghanistan were not able to capitalize on their decision to bat first as they were bowled out for a poor 131 in their 1st innings.
Before the match , Afghanistan suffered a huge blow as their premier bowler Rashid Khan was ruled out of the 1st test due to a finger injury which he suffered in the Pakistan Premier league. Zimbabwe displayed an excellent bowling performance as they didn’t give away anything to the Afghan batters and took complete advantage of the alien conditions and a pitch which provided assistance to the new ball bowlers .
Opener Abdul Malik went on the first ball of the match as he was bowled by Muzarabani which set the tempo for the visiting team. After that, wickets fell at regular intervals as the Afghani batsmen kept getting out cheaply despite getting starts. Opener I.Zadran and A.Zazai snitched a decent partnership which helped Afghanistan to go pass their lowest total of 103 in test cricket against India . But as the Zimbabwe seamers kept picking wickets, Afghanistan were bowled out for 131 with A.Zazai top scoring with 37 which tells you the story of their batting performance. B.Muzarabani was the pick of the bowlers with outstanding figures of 4/48. He was well assisted by his fellow pacer V.Nyauchi who picked 3 crucial wickets . This was the reward Muzarabani and Nyauchi got for their consistent line and length as they asked tough questions to the batsmen .
In reply , Zimbabwe had a lead of 2 runs overnight on Day 2 with 5 wickets in hand and were later bowled out for 250 on Day 3 with captain Sean Williams leading by example as he notched up a brilliant 105 (174) and gave Zimbabwe lead of 119 runs . Williams’s innings of grit and patience included 10 fours. Raza and Chakabva extended support to their captain as they scored 43 and 44 each . H.Hotak was the pick of the Afgan bowkers as he roped a brilliant 6/75 .
With already on the back foot, Afghanistan once again displayed a poor batting performance as they were bowled out for 135 in their 2nd innings and set an easy target of 17 runs for Zimbabwe. . Zadran was the stand out batsman as he made a patient 76 runs but apart from him, all the other batsmen failed miserably with only 2 10-digit scores. Nyauchi and Tiripano picked 3 wickets each with Muzarabani picking 2 which rattled the Afghanistan batting order and once again Zimbabwe bowlers impressed everyone.
Zimbabwe comprehensively won by 10 wickets and severely dominated the hosts with their outstanding performances with both bat and bowl. This will give the new Zimbabwe side immense confidence going into the 2nd Test. 15 wickets each fell on both the days but Zimbabwe held their nerves and showed the depth they have in both batting and bowling departments as they took complete advantage of the conditions.
On the other hand , Afghanistan will have to bat out their skin in the next test match in order to level the series and fill in the loopholes in their batting line up which looked very pale in the 1st Test.
Action in the 2nd Test will begin fron the 10th of March with Zimbabwe leading the series 1-0
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