After wrapping up the Test series 1-1, Afghanistan and Zimbabwe will now clash in a 3-match T20I series.
Afghanistan are favorites to win this match.
Afghanistan finished the 2-match Test series against Zimbabwe at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi with a famous 6-wicket win that helped them level the series. The two teams will now clash in a 3-match T20I series at the same venue. Afghanistan are at their best in the shortest format of the game and have had a very good record against Zimbabwe in recent years. Moreover, the tracks of the sub-continent will be perfectly suited for their bowlers and batsmen. Zimbabwe have a tough challenge on their hands and they would be looking at their seniors to lead the charge.
The Afghanistan cricket board announced a 15-member squad for the T20I series earlier today. Unfortunately, due to visa issues, the decision for the inclusion of five players - Gulbadin Naib, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Hamid Hassan, Waqar Salamkheil, and Azmatullah Omarzai – is still pending. Mujeeb, who is a star spinner in this format, would be dearly missed by the team in the first game. However, Afghanistan still has some good quality in their ranks.
The onus of the batting department will be on the likes of Rahmanullah Gurbaz and skipper Ashgar Afghan primarily as the others in the top-order haven’t had much T20I experience. Mohammad Nabi will have a huge role to play and his experience will be key lower down the order.
On the bowling front, star leg-spinner Rashid Khan will be Afghanistan’s main weapon and he is likely to be a handful on this surface. Rashid is fresh off a seven-wicket haul in the 2nd Test and will be eager to make his mark in the format he loves the most. Naveen Ul Haq is a talented young seamer who has taken 55 wickets in 50 T20s. He could be another one to watch out for.
Usman Ghani, Rahmanullah Gurbaz (WK), Ibrahim Zadran, Ashgar Afghan (C), Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Karim Jannat, Rashid Khan, Hamza Hotak, Naveen Ul Haq, Fazal Haq Farooqi
Amir Hamza, Karim Janat, Asghar Afghan, Usman Ghani, Naveen-ul-Haq, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Rashid Khan, Fareed Ahmad Malik, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi
Zimbabwe have plenty of talent in their squad. However, what they lack is the experience of playing the shorter formats on sub-continental tracks. That will be their biggest challenge as they face-off against Afghanistan.
The Zimbabwe squad misses out on experienced players like Chamu Chibhabha, Peter Moor, and Tendai Chatara. The main responsibility of the batting now will have to be shared between skipper Sean Williams and Sikandar Raza – their two most experienced batsmen. Tinashe Kamunhukamwe’s role at the top will also be key and it will be interesting to see if he can give the team some solid starts. Wesley Madhevere is another batsman to watch out for.
On the bowling front, Zimbabwe will be depending on Donald Tiripano and Blessing Muzarabani to get them the wickets. Otherwise, the team does seem to lack a penetrating seam bowler right upfront. Sean Williams and Sikandar Raza are also expected to turn their arms over during the middle for some crucial overs of spin on a track that should assist them.
Tinashe Kamunhukamwe, Sean Williams (c), Milton Shumba, Sikandar Raza, Wesley Madhevere, Richmond Mutumbami (wk), Ryan Burl, Donald Tiripano, Blessing Muzarabani, Wellington Masakadza, Faraz Akram
Richard Ngarava, Tinashe Kamunhukamwe, Brandon Mavuta, Wesley Madhevere, Tarisai Musakanda, Richmond Mutumbami, Sikandar Raza, Blessing Muzarabani, Ryan Burl, Donald Tiripano, Sean Williams
|Hr||Temp||Rain||W. speed||W. direction||Clouds|
|00h||23||0 mm.||2.7 k/h||From: ENE||39%|
|03h||23||0 mm.||1.89 k/h||From: ESE||44%|
|06h||26||0 mm.||2.74 k/h||From: SSE||36%|
|09h||28||0 mm.||1.6 k/h||From: WNW||5%|
|12h||28||0 mm.||6.17 k/h||From: N||2%|
|15h||26||0 mm.||5.78 k/h||From: NNE||0%|
|18h||26||0 mm.||4.95 k/h||From: NE||0%|
|21h||26||0 mm.||3.59 k/h||From: E||23%|
The pitch at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi is likely to be a little on the slower side. While batsmen will enjoy the hardness in the first 6-odd overs, the surface will slow down and the slower bowlers will then come into play. If dew does set in, however, then the ball might skid and make batting easier.
The weather in Abu Dhabi will be hot and clear. The night temperatures will be around 23° C.
There have been a number of T20Is played at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi and it has generally been a typical sub-continental wicket. The highest total on this venue is 225-7 by Ireland against Afghanistan back in 2013. However, the track has slowed down a bit since then and the average first innings score here in the last few years has been around the 150-run mark.
The team winning the toss is likely to bat first. Teams batting first have won about 55% of the matches on this venue and that is likely to be the case in this series too.
Afghanistan have been dominating Zimbabwe in T20Is in recent years and have beaten them in 4 of the last 5 matches played between the two sides. They will hence begin as favorites for this clash, even though they are missing some key players. Zimbabwe’s hopes will rely mainly on their senior batsmen but even that might not be enough as the threat of Rashid Khan might nullify that. If Zimbabwe’s opening bowlers can exploit the inexperience in Afghanistan’s top-order, then we might have a close encounter.
Afghanistan are favorites to win this match.