Afghanistan, who defeated Zimbabwe in the five-match ODI series, are one step away from winning the two-match T20 series as well after clinching the first T20 in Sharjah on Friday. Zimbabwe, on the other hand, are hurt with their performances so far, and have a chance of drawing the T20 series level by winning the second T20 on Sunday.
Hence, both the teams have plenty to play for in the last match of the series.
The first T20 produced an entertaining contest with both teams playing some quality cricket, which Afghanistan eventually won by five runs. Afghanistan, who had set a target of 187 runs, looked a solid unit, especially with the bat as openers Mohammad Shahzad and Usmani Ghani took upon the Zimbabwe bowlers as they lost their first wicket for 63 runs in the 7th over.
Shahzad was the best player for Afghanistan with 33 runs from 17 balls. If the batsman scores at such a rate in the 2nd T20 as well, the Asian side will be in the driver's seat. Apart from the opener, they also need other players such as Mohammad Nabi and Gulbadin Naib to score quick runs like the way they did in the 1st T20.
Afghanistan, who have some quality bowlers like Dawlat Zardan and Mirwais Ashraf, will hold the key with the ball. If these bowlers find a way to contain the Zimbabwe batsmen and dismiss them early, Afghanistan should finish the series with broad smiles on their faces.
Hamilton Masakzada, who has been in top scoring for Zimbabwe in the ODI, continued his impressive run in the T20 format as well, but his 24-ball 33 runs was still not enough for Zimbabwe to get past Afghanistan's score in the first T20.
Despite Zimbabwe's failure, Masakazda will once again be the key batsman for Zimbabwe. With Masakazda in such form, the batsman needs to carry his bat through the innings as he can use his experience to guide other batsmen in the team as well.
The problem for these Zimbabwe batsmen have been their failure to convert their starts into meaningful scores as was reflected in the last T20 match where players like Chamu Chibhabha failed to build score big after doing their bit of hard work in the initial phase of their innings. However, Malcolm Waller, who scored 49 runs on Friday, will need to play the finishing role for Zimbabwe in the crucial second T20.
With Zimbabwe having lost the T20 series against Afghanistan last year as well, the African nation will have to play some high-quality cricket to win the second T20 and avoid another series defeat.
Where to watch live
Afghanistan vs Zimbabwe 2nd T20 is scheduled for 8pm local time (9:30pm IST, 4pm GMT, 1pm Zimbabwe and 8:30pm Afghanistan). Indian viewers can watch the game on Neo Sports.
The Zimbabwe viewers can watch the Afghanistan vs Zimbabwe 2nd T20 live on DSTV while Afghanistan cricket fans can watch the Afghanistan vs Zimbabwe 2nd T20 live on 1TV with live streaming on 1TV Live Online. Ten Sports will offer live coverage of the Afghanistan vs Zimbabwe 2nd T20 in Pakistan and the UAE.