Zimbabwe will aim to bounce back in the 2nd T20I © Getty Images
Zimbabwe will aim to bounce back in the 2nd T20I © Getty Images

Zimbabwe and Afghanistan will face off in the second T20 International (T20I) at Sharjah and the hosts will hold the baton of confidence. They followed up their dramatic One-Day International (ODI) series win with a victory in the first 20-over fixture in what was a scintillating contest. Zimbabwe lost the tie by just five runs as a result of their repetitive failure to seize key moments. For Afghanistan it was another collective effort and further proof of their ever-improving batting. Mohammad Shahzad again provided an explosive start at top of the order and the rest of the innings just flowed in delightful fashion. Full Scorecard: Afghanistan vs Zimbabwe 2015-16, 2nd T20I at Sharjah

Afghanistan will be aware that his contributions at the top of the order are invaluable to their success and will look for him to carry on in the same vein. Gulbadin Naib produced a fantastic knock in the latter stages of the game to take Afghanistan to a truly challenging total.

Zimbabwe’s bowling was a bits and pieces effort. The seam bowlers showed glimpse of accuracy but were wayward for most part, something they can’t afford at their pace. Graeme Cremer continued to impress bowling four overs from which he conceded just 17 runs and took three wickets, credit to his clever variations. Zimbabwe will want their pace bowlers to build around his consistency. READ: Afghanistan pull off a nail-biting 5-run win vs Zimbabwe in 1st T20I at Sharjah

Zimbabwe’s response with the bat was quite admirable especially against the quality attack Afghanistan possess. Even though they lost wickets a little too frequently, they kept going at the score in front of them in a positive manner. Hamilton Masakadza again played a matured role while others looked to accelerate. Malcolm Waller’s unbeaten 37-ball 49 merits special mention. Zimbabwe definitely need more in the batting  line-up to get their game up.

Afghanistan’s bowling has been largely impressive through course of the series but they fell a bit flat in the first T20I. They have the potential to quickly regroup and get their act together in the second game. Dawlat Zadran will again be the man to watch out for.

As the teams match up for the second T20I, Zimbabwe will be desperate for a win. To close a series of wounds on a high and to salvage some pride. The momentum however rests with Afghanistan.

Squads:

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

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

(Rishad D’Souza, a reporter with CricketCountry, gave up hopes of playing Test cricket after a poor gully-cricket career. He now reports on the sport. You can follow @RDcric on Twitter)