Just 24 hours after starring in a comfortable win, the dynamic duo were at it again at the same venue against the same opposition as Afghanistan sealed the T20I series against Zimbabwe. Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi had delivered in the opening game and they both had stellar roles to play again on Tuesday (February 6), only this time, the margin of victory was much tighter as Zimbabwe put up a spirited fight in the chase.
With this win - their seventh in as many T20Is against Zimbabwe - Afghanistan move ahead of Sri Lanka at eighth spot on the ICC T20 Rankings
Once their bowlers did a commendable job by restricting Afghanistan to 158, Zimbabwe were handed a blow with Solomon Mire getting bowled by Mujeeb Zadran for 2. Mire had taken the attack to the bowlers in the powerplay in the first T20I but his early departure had rocked Zimbabwe. Hamilton Masakadza broke the shackles with back-to-back sixes off Mujeeb in the fifth over but the run rate still didn't go past six.
Mujeeb got his man off his final over of the game when Masakadza whipped one to the midwicket fielder and shortly Nabi made a crucial breakthrough by getting rid of Brendan Taylor. At the halfway mark, things looked bleak for Zimbabwe as they were placed at 62 for 3, needing another 97 from the final ten overs. It got narrowed down to 84 from 42 before Raza switched gears to fetch a couple of fours and a six off Gulbadin Naib. The 18-run over gave raised Zimbabwe's minor hopes as the equation boiled down to 57 off the final four overs.
With Rashid still having two overs up his sleeve, Afghanistan remained confident and the 19-year-old didn't disappoint. He got the vital wicket of Raza, who perished while attempting a reverse sweep. He missed the ball completely to get trapped lbw and replays confirmed that it was plumb. The wicket derailed the chase completely as Zimbabwe failed to get the necessary impetus at the death to eventually fall short by 17 runs.
They could have ended up chasing a much bigger target if not for Afghanistan's implosion towards the end of their innings. Mohammad Shahzad hit a boundary each off the first three overs before falling for 17. Skipper Asghar Stanikzai wasted little time to get going as he deposited his second ball for a six over long off. Stanikzai cleared the fence on a couple of more occasions as he added 56 for the second wicket with Karim Sadiq to lay the platform for an onslaught.
Graeme Cremer though got rid of both the set batsmen off successive overs to pull his side back into the contest but Nabi once again led the recovery. The allrounder kept finding boundaries at regular intervals and he found an able partner in Najibullah Zadran. The duo added 51 for the fourth wicket.
Even though Najibullah fell for 24, Nabi slammed 16 runs in three balls to move to 45 as Afghanistan reached 155 for 4 after 18 overs. While they would have anticipated adding at least 20-25 more runs to their score, Afghanistan imploded big time, with the 19th over resulting in three wickets - including that of Nabi. Kyle Jarvis picked up two more in the final over as Afghanistan ended up adding just three runs for the loss of five wickets in the last two overs. It still proved to be enough to clinch the series.
Brief scores: Afghanistan 158/9 in 20 overs (Mohammad Nabi 45, Karim Sadiq 28; Tendai Chatara 3-20, Graeme Cremer 2-20) beat Zimbabwe 141/5 in 20 overs (Sikandar Raza 40, Ryan Burl 30; Mujeeb Zadran 2-21, Rashid Khan 2-23) by 17 runs.