Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Zimbabwe batsman Brendan Taylor scored a brilliant 125 to not only lead his side to a convincing 154-run win over Afghanistan in the second ODI in Sharjah, but also bring them level at 1-1 in the series.
Choosing to bat first, Zimbabwe lost opener Solomon Mire in the third over as he was given out lbw off the bowling of Mujeeb Ur Rahman for nine runs.
Hamilton Masakadza and Taylor made up for the loss of Mire with an 85-run partnership before Masakadza was run out by Najibullah Zadran for 48.
Taylor and Craig Ervine added 49 runs to the score before Ervine was caught behind off the bowling of Rashid Khan for 14.
Taylor and Sikandar Raza kept the runs flowing with a 135-run stand, during which Taylor brought up his hundred.
With Zimbabwe’s innings coming to an end, Taylor was eventually clean bowled by Rashid for a sensational 125, which came off 121 balls and included five boundaries and eight sixes.
Raza went on to score 92 off 74 deliveries, which included nine boundaries and four sixes, before he was dismissed by Gulbadin Naib.
With Malcolm Waller smashing a quickfire 22, Zimbabwe finished on 333/5 off their 50 overs.
Rashid was the pick of the bowlers with two wickets, while Naib and Mujeeb chipped in with one wicket apiece.
Chasing 334 to win, Afghanistan were dealt a big blow in the fourth over as opener Ihsanullah was caught by Brian Vitori at mid-on off the bowling of Tendai Chatara for two runs.
Ihsanullah’s opening partner, Mohammad Shahzad, fell the very next over as he was caught by Blessing Muzarabani at short fine leg off the bowling of Vitori for 15.
Captain Asghar Stanikzai failed to have an impact as he was caught behind off the bowling of Chatara for one run.
Chatara struck again three balls later as Nasir Jamal was caught by Ryan Burl at short cover for a duck.
With Najibullah being removed for three runs, Afghanistan found themselves in a world of trouble at 36/5.
However, Rahmat Shah and Mohammad Nabi temporarily stemmed the flow of wickets with a 53-run partnership before Nabi was cleaned up by Zimbabwe captain Graeme Cremer.
Naib was trapped lbw the very next ball, while Rashid made eight runs before becoming Cremer’s third victim.
Even though Mujeeb and Dawlat Zadran put together a 64-run partnership off just 29 balls, it wasn’t enough to save their side as Afghanistan were bowled out for 179 when Mujeeb was clean bowled by Cremer for 15.
Dawlat, meanwhile, remained unbeaten on a career-best 47, which came off 29 balls and included two boundaries and six sixes.
Cremer was the most successful bowler with four wickets, while Chatara took three, Muzarabani got two and Vitori claimed one.
Taylor was named Man of the Match.