Zimbabwe will be full of confidence after chasing down Afghanistan's total at a canter in the 1st ODI and will look for more of the same second time around in Bulawayo. Afghanistan will hope to bounce back and keep themselves in the four-game series.
The two sides will be hoping for more from their top order, with both innings getting off to disappointing starts before the middle order batsmen clicked to put runs on the board. Whoever bats first will be looking to get off to a better start to build an imposing total that will put pressure on the openers leading the run chase in the second half of the game.
Venue: Queens Sports Club, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
Date: Sunday, July 20, 2014
Start time: 9:00 a.m. local time, 8:00 a.m. BST
Weather: Another sun-kissed day in Bulawayo according to BBC Weather, with clouds clearing by 11:00 a.m. and the temperature peaking at 21 degrees Celsius in mid-afternoon.
Live stream/TV Info: Sky Sports but only highlights (U.K.), DSTV (Zimbabwe), 1TV (Afghanistan), Star Cricket (India), ESPN Sports (Australia).
Zimbabwe came into this series having not played an ODI since August last year, but they betrayed any signs of rust with a convincing victory in the first game of the series. Set 244 to win, they reached their target with more than four overs to spare and six wickets in hand.
After an early wobble that left them 27/2 in the 10th over, Sikandar Raza anchored the innings with a responsible 42 not out from 61 deliveries, ably supported by skipper Brendan Taylor, who made 43 runs at a slightly quicker rate. This platform enabled Sean Williams to strike an eye-catching 70 from 65 balls as the home side romped home with 34 balls to spare.
Afghanistan can take heart from the way they battled back from their own poor start to post a respectable total, albeit one that was comfortably chased down. Opener Noor Ali Zadran clung on gamely to eke out 43 runs from 107 balls, his slow rate a necessity as wickets fell at the other end, the rest of the top order falling away cheaply.
At 56/3 in the 19th over, a match-winning total seemed a distant hope, but Afghanistan's middle order sparked the innings into life. Samiullah Shenwari and Mohammad Nabi both found their range to clear the boundary on the way to a pair of fifties, and wicketkeeper Shafiqullah joined them with some useful late-order hitting.
To make the most of their effective middle order, Afghanistan will hope their bowlers can regain the incisiveness shown at times in the Asia Cup, where they bowled out Bangladesh for 222 and regularly took wickets against Pakistan and eventual winners Sri Lanka, albeit the latter two were in losing causes.
Both sides will hope to avoid the top order struggles that put them on the back foot early on. Afghanistan will be looking to 17-year-old Usman Ghani to rediscover the form that brought him back-to-back fifties in his first two ODIs, and Zimbabwe will be expecting greater things of experienced duo Vusi Sibanda and Hamilton Masakadza, veterans of more than 100 ODIs each with over 6,000 runs between them.
If both sides can provide a solid platform for their middle-order batsman to play with freedom and bring the fireworks later in the innings, it should make for an entertaining and close-fought battle.
The hugely experienced Hamilton Masakadza will hope to atone for a disappointing first game where he made 10 from 22 balls, hitting two boundaries but struggling for the most part to get the bowling away for runs. Nonetheless, he possesses undoubted class at the crease. He has made three international hundreds in both Test and ODI cricket in addition to 20 ODI half centuries in his 130 appearances for Zimbabwe. Many of their most notable recent victories have been built on the foundation of commanding innings from Masakadza. He struck an impressive 85 to set up a successful run chase against Pakistan last August, and Afghanistan will be wary of the threat he poses after he flogged them for 93 from just 52 balls in a World T20 warm-up game just four months ago.
Skipper Mohammad Nabi has obvious calibre, having impressed Mike Gatting as a youngster to earn himself a stint with the MCC Young Cricketers programme. He top-scored in his first MCC game with 43 against a Sri Lanka A side containing six players of international pedigree, and was his side's standout performer with the bat in the first game in Bulawayo. Nabi's 54 runs came from just 34 balls with three fours and three sixes, injecting some much-needed urgency into Afghanistan's batting. His useful off-spin was also worth a wicket at fewer runs per over than all bar the opening bowler Shapoor Zadran. If Afghanistan are going to fight their way back to level terms, they need their captain to lead the way.
Zimbabwe (from): Brendan Taylor (capt and wk) Sikandar Raza Butt, Regis Chakabva , Tendai Chatara , Elton Chigumbura, Hamilton Masakadza, Shingirai Masakadza, Tinotenda Mawoyo, Natsai M'shangwe, Tinashe Panyangara, Vusimuzi Sibanda, Prosper Utseya, Brian Vitori, Malcolm Waller, Sean Williams, Donald Tiripano, John Nyumbu, Mark Vermeulen, Timycen Maruma, Richmond Mutumbami, Michael Chinouya.
Afghanistan (from): Mohammad Nabi (capt), Aftab Alam, Asghar Stanikzai, Dawlat Zadran, Gulbadin Naib, Hashmatullah Shaidi, Javed Ahmadi, Mirwais Ashraf, Nasir Jamal, Noor Ali Zadran, Rahmat Shah, Samiullah Shenwari, Shafiqullah (wk), Shapoor Zadran, Sharafuddin Ashraf, Usman Ghani.
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