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Afghanistan vs Zimbabwe Preview:Life as a coach can come at you fast. A little over a month since taking up the task of being Afghanistan’s batting coach, HD Ackerman watched his side surrender meekly with the bat on two occasions inside two days to allow a highly-inexperienced Zimbabwe side take an unexpected 1-0 lead. You could cut him and the Afghanistan batsmen some slack, considering they were playing red ball format for the first time in over a year. But that Zimbabwe also came with the similar lack of preparedness paints a grim picture for the ‘home’ side. Afghanistan’s biggest pet peeve on Abu Dhabi’s tricky surface in the series opener was the lack of application from the batsmen. In the lead up to the series, head coach Lance Klusener reiterated to cricbuzz about the need to bat big, particularly in the first innings, and last for as long as 100 overs to put themselves in a position of strength. Afghanistan did well to win the toss and opt to bat but the batting solidity that was supposed to follow never showed up. They fell short of lasting 100 overs in both their innings put together, twice punctuated by worrying collapses. As many as eight batsmen returned single-digit scores in the second innings, with the only performance of note coming from 19-year-old opener Ibrahim Zadran, who made a valiant-but-futile 76. Amir Hamza’s left-arm spin was the one respite for Afghanistan during what were two immensely forgettable days of cricket for the team. Zimbabwe found themselves at the other end of the performance spectrum. There was a bit of nervous energy about their inexperienced top-order, but captain Sean Williams swooped in with a century to lay down the platform for Zimbabwe’s big win. There’s still room for argument about Zimbabwe’s batting wastefulness, but with the ball in hand, they have been a step above their opposition.
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Team News:A lot of focus in the build-up to this second fixture will be on the batting make-up of Afghanistan’s XI, but the big question that needs answering is whether Rashid Khan has recovered from his finger injury that kept him out of the first Test. Sean Williams’s side should carry forward the XI that earned them the series lead.
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Match: Afghanistan vs Zimbabwe
Series: Afghanistan v Zimbabwe in UAE, 2021
Date: Wednesday, March 10, 2021 – Sunday, March 14, 2021
Time: 09:30 local / 05:00 GMT / 10:30 PST
Venue: Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi