Sharjah: Zimbabwe beat Afghanistan by 66 runs in the fourth One-Day International at Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Monday, with Chamu Chibhabha putting up a solid all-round effort, to level the five-match series 2-2.
The result, arrived at when Afghanistan folded for 161 in response to Zimbabwe's 226, meant that the fifth and final encounter on Wednesday became a decider.
Choosing to bat, Zimbabwe got off to a great start, with openers Peter Moor and Chibhabha both hitting half-centuries. They batted for 22.5 overs, putting up 92 runs, before Moor was caught by Dawlat Zadran off Rashid Khan at long-on for 52 in 72 balls.
Malcolm Waller then joined Chibhabha and the two took the score past three figures with a second-wicket partnership of 68 off 39 balls. Waller fell for 15 in the 30th over, caught by Hashmatullah Shahid off Mirwais Ashraf, and Rashid returned three overs later to dismiss Chibhabha (53 in 92).
For Afghanistan Dawlat (3/54) and Rashid (3/43) were the main wicket takers, and were ably supported by Amir Hamza (2/31) and Mirwais (2/36).
Afghanistan's chase, however, didn't quite take off, with Neville Madziva started the fall of wickets, sending back Noor Ali Zadran in the first over for four.
Mohammad Shahzad, the other opener, kept the runs coming, but he ran out of support from the other end once Madziva triggered a collapse starting with the wicket of Asghar Stanikzai in the fifth over.
Hashmatullah Shahidi and Shahzad then put up a patient fifth-wicket partnership of 36 off 58 balls, but once Graeme Cremer trapped the latter lbw for 45 in 72 balls, it was only a matter of time before Afghanistan's resistance came to an end.
Karim Sadiq, Shafiqullah and Mirwais batted alongside Hashmatullah for another 13 overs, but the runs had stopped coming, forcing the batsmen to attempt big shots, which led to more soft dismissals. Hashmatullah made 31 off 67 deliveries, hitting two fours.
Chibhabha ended as the most successful bowler for Zimbabwe, returning figures of 4 for 25. Cramer and Madziva bagged two wickets each.
Zimbabwe - 226 (Chibhabha 53, Moor 52, Rashid Khan 3-43, Hamza 2-31)
Afghanistan - 161 (Shahzad 45, Shahidi 31. Chibhabha 4-25, Cremer 2-38)
Result - Zimbabwe won by 65 runs
MOM - Chamu Chibhabha (Zimbabwe)