In the second match of the five-game series on Sunday, it was the Zimbabweans who posted 333-5 in their 50 overs and then bowled out the Afghans for 179 to claim victory by 154 runs.
Brendan Taylor scored a majestic 125 as Zimbabwe leveled the five-match series.
Wicketkeeper Taylor led the Africans to 333-5 with his ninth ODI hundred, before Graeme Cremer took 4-41 with his leg-spin as Afghanistan slumped to 89-7 on their way to 179 all out.
Both teams are warming up for the 2019 World Cup qualifying tournament in Zimbabwe next month.
Wicketkeeper Taylor put on 135 for the fourth wicket with Sikandar Raza before being bowled by Afghan star Rashid Khan.
The 19-year-old leg-spinner returned figures of 2-36 from his 10 overs, but the Afghanistan seamers bore the brunt of Taylor and Raza’s hitting, with Dawlat Zadran and Gulbadin Naib conceding 181 runs from 17 overs between them.
All-rounder Raza’s 92 came from 74 balls with 13 boundaries including four sixes.
The Afghanistan chase never got going, with the dangerous Mohammad Shahzad dismissed for just 15 as they slipped to 36-5.
The in-form Mohammad Nabi added 53 with first-match centurion Rahmat Shah, but Zimbabwe captain Cremer took two wickets in two balls in his first over.
Dawlat Zadran put on 64 for the final wicket with 16-year-old Mujeeb Ur Rahman, hitting six towering maximums, but Zimbabwe wrapped up victory with ease.
The two sides play three more ODIs in the UAE before meeting again in Group B of World Cup qualifying on March 6.
Pakistan legend Wasim Akram has laid down the gauntlet to Jasprit Bumrah, suggesting the Indian pacer should skip April’s Indian Premier League and instead play a month’s county cricket in England to become a better bowler.
The Men in Blue will take on the Three Lions over five Tests in England this coming summer, with Akram believing a stint with the Duke ball in seaming and cold conditions in April would benefit the 24-year-old tenfold.
Akram, who claimed 414 Test wicket scalps in 104 matches for his country and is widely considered one of the greatest exponents of swing bowling, kept a close eye on Indian quicks, particularly during the 2-1 Test series defeat to the Proteas.
The 51-year-old highlighted Bumrah, specifically, as a man who could benefit from more fast bowling experience away from India if he has the desire to add plenty more Test caps to the three he has already.
“If Bumrah plays at least a month of county every year, trust me, he will be a better bowler. But then Indian board has to tell Bumrah to forego a month’s IPL and play county cricket,” Akram, who was speaking to PTI on the sidelines of the Ice Cricket match played at St. Moritz in Switzerland, said.
While the riches of Bumrah’s IPL deal with the Mumbai Indians would be difficult to give up, Akram believes fast bowlers, especially, need to look at the bigger picture in order to improve.
Indeed, the former Pakistan star agreed with the recent assessment made by West Indies pace great Michael Holding that Bumrah’s hit the deck hard policy would not work on pitches in England.
He said: “I agree with Mike that you can’t hit the deck on English surfaces but that would only come with experience. Look, the BCCI doesn’t allow the India’s main stars to play county cricket.
“If Bumrah can learn how to straighten the ball after pitching coming from wide off the crease, more often than not, it will be his wicket-taking delivery. He just needs to use a bit of wrists for that.”
Meanwhile, Akram has been impressed with Bhuvneshwar Kumar, a stalwart for India in all forms, after the 28-year-old claimed 10 wickets in two Tests against South Africa at an average of 20.30.
He said: “Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been the most impressive pacer in South Africa, in Test and ODIs, as far as my assessment goes. He was getting the ball to swing both ways. He has increased pace now and has become all the more effective,”
India are slated to play five Tests, three ODIs and as many T20Is in their long tour of England starting this July.
The hosts kept the series alive with a fighting five-wicket win after India had posted 289-7 batting first. The rain delays had led to a revised target of 202 for the Proteas to get from 28 overs and some fine hitting by Heinrich Klaasen and David Miller saw them over the line.
“The main reason was, of course, the dropped catch and then a wicket off no-ball. From there the momentum changed. Otherwise we were in very good position,” Dhawan said after India’s defeat.
“Of course rain had an impact too. Our spinners couldn’t turn the ball or grip the ball the way they did in the last three matches. It makes a difference when the ball gets wet. That’s the reason,” he added.
The left-hander had earlier become the first Indian batsman to register a century in his 100th ODI appearance.
India’s wrist-spinners, especially Chahal, took some punishment from the Proteas batsman after having dominated them in the first three ODIs. Chahal was taken to the cleaners by Miller and Klaasen and finished with figures of 1-68 off just five and a half overs. Kuldeep Yadav, on the other hand, returned with two wickets off his six overs but was smashed for 51 runs.
However, Dhawan backed the duo to come back strongly in the remainder of the series.
“See they are young guys. They have been doing very well, more than well for us. These two spinners have won three games for us. My support is always with them. Anyone can have a bad day,” he stated.
“It’s not something that happens every time. Like our spinners don’t often bowl no balls. Even if they get hit, they will learn a lot of things,” he added.
On his part, Dhawan was delighted with his 13th ODI century and described it as a perfect innings.
“It was a picture perfect innings. I enjoyed it. It cannot get any better. In my 100th match, I scored a century. I’m very happy about that. Obviously they had their plans, but I adjusted to those things and started off well,” he remarked.