AFG vs ZIM, 1st T20I Preview: High-flying Afghanistan face a critical Zimbabwean test
Since Afghanistan managed to emerge victorious in their five previous T20I meetings against the Zimbabweans, it wouldn't be jaw-dropping if they make it six.
Updated - Feb 5, 2018 12:55 pm
On one side there’s Afghanistan, who are sky-rocketing towards a brilliant future and there’s Zimbabwe on the other, always highly spirited. One can only imagine how entertaining it’ll be to see both these sides collide and since the Afghan players are slowly gaining immense popularity, this series might attract a lot of fans across the globe.
Afghanistan’s rise in International cricket is no less than a fairytale. Their U19 side managed to achieve the unthinkable, reaching the Semifinals of the World Cup. Clearly, they want to keep all the negative aspects aside and showcase their exemplary cricketing talent to the world. They are also rejuvenated with the return of few senior players, which will only boost their confidence.
Zimbabwe has seldom achieved decent results against Stanikzai’s men in the shortest format. Graeme Cremer would want to turn the tables this time around, but the task won’t be very simple. The iconic Sharjah will play hosts to this exciting contest. Since Afghanistan managed to emerge victorious in their five previous T20I meetings against the Zimbabweans, it wouldn’t be jaw-dropping if they make it six.
Mohammad Shahzad is back with the side, so is another experienced campaigner Samiullah Shinwari. Shahzad will open with Karim Sadiq, whilst Shinwari, skipper Asghar Stanikzai, and the very important Mohammad Nabi will be forming the middle order. Gulbadin Naib and Rashid Khan are other capable players in the lower order.
The spin department forms the heart and core of this unit. The likes of Mujeeb Zadran, Rashid Khan, and Mohammad Nabi are amongst the best spinners in the world right now. Accompanying them are the very experienced fast bowlers Hamid Hassan, Shafiqullah Shafaq, and Shapoor Zadran.
Probable XI: Mohammad Shahzad (WK), Karim Sadiq, Samiullah Shinwari, Asghar Stanikzai (C), Mohammad Nabi, Gulbadin Naib, Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Zadran, Hamid Hassan, Shafiqullah Shafaq, Shapoor Zadran
Pretty much the same lineup for every format. Hamilton Masakadza will be opening the innings alongside Solomon Mire whilst the likes of Craig Ervine and Brendan Taylor take up the next two crucial spots. Sikandar Raza has been in scintillating touch these days and he’ll be very important in the middle overs with the bat and ball.
Graeme Cremer has been one of the standout bowlers for Zimbabwe in recent times. The skipper will have to lead from the front and though he doesn’t have many spinning options, he has some excellent fast bowlers in Kyle Jarvis, Blessing Muzarabani, and Christopher Mpofu. Malcolm Waller and Sikandar Raza will have to chip in with a few overs for the skipper.
Probable XI: Hamilton Masakadza, Brendan Taylor, Solomon Mire, Craig Ervine, Sikandar Raza, Malcolm Waller, Peter Moor, Graeme Cremer (C), Christopher Mpofu, Blessing Muzarabani, Kyle Jarvis
Focus will be on
Mohammad Shahzad (Afghanistan)
Touted as Afghanistan’s MS Dhoni, Mohammad Shahzad entered the elite level with a bang. The way this little man plays a few shots astounds people. After a small break, he’s back with the side and he’ll be opening the innings once again. Afghanistan has a huge task of qualifying for the World Cup ahead of them, for which they need this guy to be in imperious touch.
Sikandar Raza (Zimbabwe)
If Sikandar Raza can carry forward his BPL form into this series, Zimbabwe will have a good chance to sweep their opponents away. A fine middle-order batsman and a useful off-break spinner, Raza contributes profusely to his side in every format. Skipper Cremer might entrust him to move a little ahead in the batting order as well to ensure his best players face the most number of balls.
Timings of the match – 8:30 pm IST, 3:oo pm GMT, 7:00 pm Local Time