Afghanistan’s coach Inzamam-ul-Haq has credited the passion of the team as the reason behind their 2-0 win in the T20 series against Zimbabwe. Afghanistan beat Zimbabwe by five wickets in the second T20 international in Bulawayo, notching up another landmark result after the 3-2 win in the ODIs.
“The boys’ passion is key because they have really worked hard in the nets and have applied what we are doing in the practice session to the games,” Inzamam said. “I think that’s the key and the boys really wanted to win. That’s the main thing.”
Trailing 0-1 in the series, the hosts Zimbabwe posted a challenging total of 190 for 7, but fifties from opener Usman Ghani (65 off 45 deliveries) and allrounder Gulbadin Naib, who was promoted up the order to No. 3, managed to carry Afghanistan over the line off the penultimate ball of the match. Naib finished unbeaten on 56 off 31 deliveries, his first fifty in the format, and thanked the team management for showing confidence in him by pushing him up to a position at which he had batted only once before in 15 T20 internationals.
“It’s a big thing for me,” Naib said. “My new captain Asghar Stanikzai trusted me and told me before the match, ‘You can do it. Go on and play your own game.’ He gave me the chance in the match.”
Naib’s counterpart at No. 3, Sean Williams also scored a swift 54, equaling the Zimbabwean record for the fastest T20 fifty, as the side opted for an aggressive start with the bat. Williams said that the manner in which they had batted in the first T20, with wickets in hand but not enough runs on the board, had prompted the switch to a more attacking strategy.
“The plan was to have me up the order and give me more time to bat because obviously in the last game, I struggled to get the spinners away. It was just one of those games for me, that last game,” Williams said. “But today with the field up in the ring it allows me to play my shots – like the reverse sweep or sweep – and those are my strengths. I felt Chamu [Chibhabha] got a decent ball first up. Even though we had lost wickets in the last game we were only 153 for 5. Coming into this game, we were like, ‘Well guys this rather be 156 all out than having everybody sitting in the hut.’ So it gave me the feeling of the license to just go and actually play my shots.”
Zimbabwe’s captain Elton Chigumbura said that while the batting was an improvement on the previous match, the bowlers let them down during Afghanistan’s chase, failing to execute yorkers properly as the match moved towards a tight finish.
“I am part of the team and it’s obviously disappointing to lose both formats,”Chigumbura said. “We didn’t play some good cricket in the games that we have played. I thought today it was a much better performance looking at the way we batted, compared to the last game. Obviously a T20 is a tight game and it can go either way. I thought towards the end when we were bowling, we didn’t execute our yorkers well, and what they did to us in the end made a big difference.”
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.