Raza century puts Zimbabwe two-nil up

Afghanistan

Batsman Sikandar Raza upstaged fellow centurion Usman Ghani, as Zimbabwe welcomed a comfortable eight-wicket win – and vital two-nil series lead – over Afghanistan in Sunday's second ODI at the Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo.

Batsman Sikandar Raza upstaged fellow centurion Usman Ghani, as Zimbabwe welcomed a comfortable eight-wicket win – and vital two-nil series lead – over Afghanistan in Sunday's second ODI at the Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo.

Very inadequate in the first match at the same venue, Afghanistan's batting order put in a decidely stronger performance 48 hours later on the back of Ghani's entertaining vigil.

Rectifying the duck endured on Friday, the hard-hitting Ghani struck a dozen boundaries and a solitary six en route to a career-best 118, which spanned 200 minutes and 143 deliveries.

Largely untroubled against an opposition attack that deployed as many as eight bowlers, the 17-year-old shared key alliances with the talented Rahmat Shah, captain Mohammad Nabi and all-rounder Gulbadin Naib.

Trio, Tinashe Panyangara, Hamilton Masakadza and Raza proved the pick of the bowlers, sharing six vital wickets. The latter pair, too, were quick to respond with willow in hand.

The veteran Masakadza and Pakistan-born Raza shared a record 224-run partnership for the first wicket – inside 37 overs. Surpassing the 215 amassed by Sri Lankans Mahela Jayawardene and Upul Tharanga against Bangladesh in 2010 and equaling Pakistanis Mohammad Hafeez and Nasir Jamshed's stand versus India in 2012, enjoyed the highest opening stand in the history of Zimbabwean ODI cricket.

While the 30-year-old Mazakadaza perished seven runs shy of three figures, the 28-year-old Raza graduated to a superb century – and was eventually out for a commanding 141. Captain Brendan Taylor and the in-form Sean Williams were later at hand to cap triumph with 39 deliveries to spare.

The third and fourth ODIs will get underway on Tuesday and Thursday. Both fixtures will be played in Bulawayo.

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