TODAY MATCH PREDICTION
After a hard-fought Test series that ended in a tie, all eyes will now turn to the shortest format of the game as Afghanistan and Zimbabwe clash in Abu Dhabi for three Twenty20 Internationals. Zimbabwe will have a case to make after being disqualified from the T20I World Cup later this year. Afghanistan, on the other hand, will be looking to test their lineup ahead of the Asia Cup and T20I World Cup. The series will begin on March 17th, 2021, at the Sheikh Zayed International Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
Afghanistan, ranked 9th in the ICC T20I rankings, will not be fielding a full-strength team in this series to begin with. Rashid Khan, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Mohammad Nabi, and Gulbadin Naib are all T20I experts for Afghanistan, but two of them will be unavailable due to visa problems. Afghanistan has five players who will not be eligible to play but were part of the T20I squad that was originally confirmed.
The hosts will be buoyed by their outstanding results against Zimbabwe in head-to-head matches. Afghanistan has only lost once in the nine meetings between the two nations. Aside from that, the manner in which they won the final Test can instil trust in them.
Afghanistan does not seem to be an off-balance team despite losing five first-choice starters. Rashid Khan has been a match-winner for the Afghans in the past, and his success will be crucial once again. In the two Tests, we saw Zimbabwe’s batsmen struggling against quality spin, and Afghanistan has plenty of spin choices. In the batting order, they have a good mix of youth and experience. Afghanistan should have no problem retaining their head-to-head dominance if they play to their full capacity.
Zimbabwe would almost certainly field the same team in the first T20I match as they did in the two Test matches. They were incredible in the first match, but couldn’t match it in the second match of the season. Zimbabwe is ranked 12th in the ICC T20I rankings, and with Afghanistan’s main T20I players missing, this would be a massive chance for them to make a name for themselves in this format.
On paper, Zimbabwe has a good T20 team, with many all-rounders contributing to their overall balance. Sean Williams, Sikandar Raza, and Ryan Burl will, understandably, be their most important players. They’ve all had recent success, and if they keep it up, Afghanistan’s spinners might be in trouble.
Although facing spin will be a challenge for the tourists, there will be plenty of support available for their bowlers. Blessing Muzarabani has been their most consistent bowler recently, taking more than one wicket in six of their last nine games. Overall, Zimbabwe has only a few key players on which they can depend heavily. They’d need at least one, if not both, of them to deliver, and if that happens, Zimbabwe will be set.