Wed, 23 Oct 2019

Fazal Niazai handed debut as Afghanistan opt to bat

ESPNCricInfo
21 Sep 2019, 00:42 GMT+10

3:00 AM ET

Toss Afghanistan opt to bowl v Zimbabwe

Afghanistan will bat first against Zimbabwe in the fifth match of the T20 tri-series in Chattogram. Already assured of their place in next week's final, Afghanistan made three changes to their playing XI, handing an international debut to allrounder Fazal Niazai.

The match is essentially a dead rubber for both sides, but the occasion will still have some context as it marks Zimbabwe captain Hamilton Masakadza's final game for his country. Zimbabwe's most-capped player in this format, Masakadza announced his retirement from international cricket ahead of Zimbabwe's departure for Bangladesh and will be leading his team out in his 66th T20I, and 310th game for Zimbabwe overall. Zimbabwe, still searching for their first win of the series, named an unchanged XI to that which lost to Bangladesh on Wednesday.

"Bittersweet," Masakadza said of the occasion at the toss. "It's my last game. I would have wanted it to be under better circumstances, but it is what it is. It's still another game for us and an international for Zimbabwe. We've never beaten Afghanistan in a T20 so hopefully we can do that today, and that can be my send-off."

Aside from handing the 29-year-old Niazai a debut, Afghanistan also tinkered with their middle order and bowling attack. Karim Janat, Najeeb Tarakai and Fareed Ahmad will sit this match out, while wicket-keeper batsman Shafiqullah slots in to the top order and seamer Dawlat Zadran comes back to play his first T20I in more than two years.

The pitch being used tonight is the same as that used on Wednesday night, upon which Bangladesh racked up 175 for 7. It is expected to encourage the batsmen once again, though play a little more slowly as the evening goes on.

"It doesn't matter, whether we're in the final or not," Rashid Khan said. "We have to play positive cricket. We shouldn't change our momentum, and we have to be 100% in batting, bowling and fielding. To be playing on my birthday, as I was this time last year when I got [the] Man-of-the-Match [Award] against Bangladesh, is pretty special."

Afghanistan: 1 Hazratullah Zazai, 2 Shafiqullah, 3 Fazal Niazai, 4 Asghar Afghan, 5 Mohammad Nabi, 6 Najibullah Zadran, 7 Gulbadin Naib, 8 Rahmanullah Gurbanz (wk), 9 Rashid Khan (capt), 10 Dawlat Zadran, 11 Mujeeb Ur Rahman

Zimbabwe: 1 Brendan Taylor (wk), 2 Hamilton Masakadza (capt), 3 Sean Williams, 4 Regis Chakabva, 5 Tinotenda Mutombodzi, 6 Ryan Burl, 7 Richmond Mutumbami, 8 Neville Madziva, 9 Kyle Jarvis, 10 Ainsley Ndlovu, 11 Chris Mpofu

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