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Zimbabwe cruises to 8-wicket win over Afghanistan for 2-0 ODI series lead

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BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe - Zimbabwe opener Sikandar Raza made sure his first one-day international century was a memorable one as he smashed seven sixes in his 141 to power the home team to an eight-wicket win and a 2-0 series lead over Afghanistan on Sunday.

Raza was part of a record 224-run opening partnership with Hamilton Masakadza as Zimbabwe chased down Afghanistan's total of 256-7 with ease for a 2-0 lead in the four-match series. Masakadza made 93 as Zimbabwe cruised to 257-2 in 43.3 overs. The opening partnership was the highest for any wicket for Zimbabwe in ODIs.

Raza faced just 133 balls and added 11 fours to his string of sixes as he punished Afghanistan's bowling at Queens Sports Club.

Afghanistan had been hopeful of levelling the series after 17-year-old Usman Ghani made his first international century opening the batting for the visitors. But Ghani's 118 was the only major contribution for Afghanistan with the next highest score 23 not out from tailender Gulbadin Naib.

Raza's outstanding day began with him taking 2-25 off five overs after Zimbabwe opted to bowl first. Masakadza and Tinashe Panyangara also picked up two wickets each as Afghanistan couldn't build on the early platform laid by Ghani.

Raza and Masakadza tore into the bowling in Zimbabwe's chase, with Masakadza hitting 10 fours and a six. The pair stayed together for more than 36 overs and scored at over six runs an over to leave captain Brendan Taylor (11 not out) and Sean Williams (2 not out) to complete the easy victory with 39 balls to spare.

Raza almost batted through the innings, only falling the ball before Zimbabwe secured victory and at least a draw in the series.

Afghanistan is playing its first one-day series against a test-playing nation. The entire series will be contested at Bulawayo, with the remaining two games on Tuesday and Thursday.

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Zimbabwe 257-2 in 43.3 overs (Sikandar Raza 141, Hamilton Masakadza 93) beat Afghanistan 256-7 in 50 overs (Usman Ghani 118; Raza 2-25) by 8 wickets.

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