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ZIMBABWE LOSE FIRST ODI

Afghanistan beat Zimbabwe by 12 runs Hosts, Zimbabwe were made to pay for a sluggish run chase, slumping to a 12-run defeat to Afghanistan via the Duckworth-Lewis method in a rain-interrupted first one-day international (ODI) cricket match at Harare Sports Club yesterday. BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE

With the win, Afghanistan, who have developed a bogey side tag over Zimbabwe, took the lead in the five-match series.

However, they needed a bit of help from groundsmen, who spilled water on the pitch while removing the covers, rendering the pitch unplayable.

Captain Greame Cremer refused to blame anybody, but the team for loss.

“We are very disappointed. I thought we bowled very well and we would have taken 215 any day. Really we shouldn’t have been in a position to lose the match with the Duckworth-Lewis. Maybe if they had scored 270 or 280 not 215, we lost too many soft wickets and that was our fall,” he said.

Afghanistan won the toss and elected to bat scoring 215, setting up a modest target of 216 for the hosts.

But Zimbabwe were on 99 for 4 when rain arrived, having lost Solomon Mire, Peter Moor, Sikandar Raza Butt and Ryan Burl.

With Zimbabwe chasing 216 to win, Australia-based batsman, Mire, given the nod to open the bat, was dismissed for just 2 runs by spinner Amir Hamza.

His partner Moor (18) would follow seven balls later, leaving Zimbabwe battling at 21/2 in 5,3 overs.

Butt came in and shared a 23-run partnership with Craig Ervine before falling for 12.

Rain interrupted play into the 28th over soon after debutant Burl was trapped lbw for 28.

Burl was involved in a 55-run partnership with Ervine, which was broken by Rashid Khan.

When covers were removed, Zimbabwe had been set a revised target of 207 runs in 46 overs, but Afghanistan declined to take to the field complaining of a wet outfield and the Duckworth-Lewis method had to come into play.

Earlier, 19-year-old debutant, Richard Ngarava struck with only the fifth ball of his ODI career, sending dangerous opener, Mohammed Shahzad (8) back to the pavilion.

Ngarava’s shortish delivery outside off stump was top-edged to Chris Mpofu at third man.

This would be the left arm seamer’s only wicket and his figures read 1/39 in 7 overs.

It was captain Cremer, who led the wicket count for Zimbabwe, with three for 46 in 10 overs.

Veteran seamers, Chris Mpofu and Tendai Chatara, took two wickets apiece, while Butt grabbed the other one.

Afghanistan captain, Asghar Stanikzai top-scored for the visitors managing 50 runs from 76 deliveries.

Opener, Noor Ali Zadran scored 39 and tail ender Rashid Khan 32 as Afghanistan amassed 215 runs.

The second ODI is set for Sunday.

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