Rashid’s best anchors Afghanistan’s series-levelling win over Zimbabwe

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Abu Dhabi

A career best wicket haul by leg-spinner Rashid Khan helped Afghanistan level their two-match series against Zimbabwe with a hard fought victory in the second Test in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

The 22-year-old continued his fairytale rise at international level with 7-137 in a marathon 62.5 overs effort to end Zimbabwe’s resistance-packed second innings on 365, soon after lunch on the fifth and final day.

That gave Afghanistan 108 runs to win in 45 overs which they achieved for the loss of four wickets, two each to pacer Blessing Muzarabani and spinner Ryan Burl.

But Rahmat Shah with 58 and Ibrahim Zadran 29 ensured Afghanistan achieved the target to win by six wickets and level the series at 1-1.

Zimbabwe won the first Test — also in Abu Dhabi — by ten wickets. The two teams now play a three-match Twenty20 international series on the same venue from March 17.

Rashid, whose previous best of 6-49 came against Bangladesh at Chattogram in 2019, finished the match with figures of 11-275, his second ten wicket haul in five Tests.

But the wily spinner had to overcome a tough eighth wicket stand of 187 — a new record stand for Zimbabwe in all Tests — between skipper Sean Williams and Donald Tiripano.

Williams was left stranded on 151 which came in 465 minutes of defiant batting, his highest score in the format. William’s previous best of 119 was against New Zealand at Bulawayo five years ago.

Tiripano was unlucky to miss on a well deserved hundred by five runs when he was trapped leg-before by Rashid on the stroke of lunch.

Tiripano, whose previous highest of 49 not out came in the same Test as Williams’s, hit 16 boundaries in a 261-minute defiance.

The Williams-Tiripano stand broke the previous highest eighth wicket stand for Zimbabwe of 168 between Heath Streak and Andy Blignaut made against the West Indies at Harare in 2003.

They also took the game to the fifth day after Zimbabwe were 142-6 on day four, having been forced to follow on after being dismissed for 287 in their first innings.

Williams added another 33 for the ninth wicket with Muzarabani (17) but Zimbabwe lost the last two wickets in the space of three runs.

Afghanistan had made a mammoth 545-4 declared with Hashmatullah Shahidi compiling an unbeaten 200 and skipper Asghar Afghan 164.

This was Afghanistan’s third win in six Tests, while a Test series win remains elusive for Zimbabwe since beating Bangladesh at home in 2004.—Agencies