Zimbabwe (above) would aim for payback when they take on Afghanistan © AFP (File Photo)
Zimbabwe (above) would aim for payback when they take on Afghanistan © AFP (File Photo)

Afghanistan take on Zimbabwe in the first of the five-match One-Day International (ODI) series at the Sharjah Cricket Association Stadium on Friday. Zimbabwe, who are coming off an embarrassing 2-3 series loss to Afghanistan when they met at home a couple of months ago, would aim for payback when they take on the Asian minnows, this time in an away series. However, Afghanistan, who have steadily improved over the last couple of years, would look to carry forward their winning momentum in UAE and inflict further damage on the already wounded Zimbabwean side. Live Cricket Scorecard: Afghanistan vs Zimbabwe 2015-16, 1st ODI at Sharjah

Zimbabwe fought hard in their last series against Afghanistan, but were just not strong enough to match the rising Afghan players, as they succumbed to a thrilling 2-3 defeat in the ODI series. Following the series against Afghanistan, they also lost an away series to Bangladesh 3-0. Zimbabwe have had gone through a rough patch in the year so far and would definitely aim to finish the year on a high. Afghanistan, on the other hand, enjoyed their maiden series win when they beat Zimbabwe, and will again come across them in UAE. Afghanistan will aim to defend themselves and their previous win, as well as prove that they are the new rising force in Asian and world cricket. Afghanistan vs Zimbabwe 2015-16: Afghanistan aims for favourable results to end 2015

Considering the squad, Afghanistan have a good line-up with the likes of some big players in the form of Mohammad Shahzad, Asghar Stanikzai, Samiullah Shenwari, Mohammad Nabi, Dawlat Zadran, Nawroz Mangal, and many more. Afghanistan have players capable of putting in a good performance and take the game out of the reach of the Zimbabweans in no time. Afghanistan Team appoints Manoj Prabhakar as the bowling coach

Zimbabwe too have a decent set-up, with the likes of Richmond Mutumbami, Elton Chigumbura, Hamilton Masakadza, Sikandar Raza, Tinashe Panyangara, Luke Jongwe, and others who can inflict heavy damage on the Afghans. Zimbabwe will want to prove that they are not a team to be done away with and they could bounce back in style.

Considering the match being played in Sharjah, it is expected to be a flat track which means the batsman would be the ones to watch out for. The match is expected to be a high-scoring one. Although Afghanistan do not have many power hitters, they could still be a threat owing to their good batting skills. As for Zimbabwe, the tracks will not suit them perfectly but they have enough experienced players to pull through. The match is expected to be a thriller.

Squads:

Afghanistan: Nawroz Mangal, Mohammad Shahzad (wk), Asghar Stanikzai (c), Samiullah Shenwari, Mohammad Nabi, Najibullah Zadran, Gulbadin Naib, Mirwais Ashraf, Rokhan Barakzai, Dawlat Zadran, Karim Sadiq, Rahmat Shah, Sayed Shirzad, Usman Ghani, Nawaz Khan, Amir Hamza, Yamin Ahmadzai, Shafiqullah Shafiq, Rashid Khan, Noor Ali Zadran, Hashmatullah Shahidi.

Zimbabwe: Richmond Mutumbami (wk), Chamu Chibhabha, Hamilton Masakadza, Craig Ervine, Elton Chigumbura (c), Sikandar Raza, Malcolm Waller, Graeme Cremer, Wellington Masakadza, Tinashe Panyangara, Taurai Muzarabani, Tendai Chisoro, Neville Madziva, Luke Jongwe, Peter Moor.

(Ayush Gupta is a reporter at CricketCountry. A passionate supporter of Manchester United, he idolises Roger Federer and is also a World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) maniac. He can be followed on Twitter @Ayush24x7)