After back-to-back victories against Afghanistan in the third and fourth ODIs, Zimbabwe squared the five-match ODI series, making the fifth one-day international in Sharjah on Wednesday the winner-takes-all decider.
Zimbabwe, who were staring at a series defeat after their loss in the first two matches of the ODI series, have shown some strong character to draw level. Zimbabwe won the third and fourth ODIs by 117 and 65 runs respectively. With such victories under the belt, Zimbabwe should be a confident unit when the two teams clash for the last time in the series in the 50-over format.
However, Zimbabwe are well aware of the competitive nature of Afghanistan team. Zimbabwe cannot afford to take Afghanistan lightly, for the latter can take the game to the opposition, as everyone witnessed in the first two matches.
The fourth ODI witnessed a brilliant performance from Zimbabwe, especially Chamu Chibhabha, who put up an all-round performance, scoring 53 runs and scalping four wickets to win the game for the African side. Zimbabwe will be asking for a repeat performance from the opener in the fifth ODI. Apart from Chibhabha, PJ Moor also played a good hand, scoring 52 .
If the openers – Moor and Chibhabha -- once again manage to get into their groove, Afghanistan will have a tough time.
Afghanistan will consider themselves unlucky for not winning the series in the third ODI, when they had one hand on the trophy, with Zimbabwe tottering on 45 for seven. But the African side made a strong comeback to pick up a momentum-swinging win.
Afghanistan have performed well with the ball in the ODI series, with Mirwais Ashraf and Mohammad Nabi among the wickets. Their batting, though, has been below par. Apart from Noor Ali Zadran and Mohammad Shahzad, none of the other batsmen have shown any form against the Zimbabwe bowlers.
As far as the Zimbabwe batsmen go, they too have similar problems, as they have lacked consistency. They have a strong batting lineup with Hamilton Masakadza, PJ Moor and Elton Chigumbara, and if these players score runs on Wednesday, Zimbabwe have a strong chance of winning the series.
Where to watch live
Afghanistan vs Zimbabwe 5th ODI is scheduled for 3pm local time (4:30pm IST, 11am GMT, 1pm Zimbabwe and 3:30pm Afghanistan). India viewers can watch the game on Neo Sports.
Zimbabwe viewers can watch the Afghanistan vs Zimbabwe 5th ODI live on DSTV while Afghanistan cricket fans can watch the crucial fourth ODI live on 1TV with live streaming on 1TV Live Online. Ten Sports will offer live coverage of the Afghanistan vs Zimbabwe 5th ODI in Pakistan and the UAE.