Afghanistan v Zimbabwe, 1st T20, Sharjah January 8, 2016

Masakadza fails to do a Jonty

Plays of the day from the first T20 between Afghanistan and Zimbabwe in Sharjah

Gulbadin Naib proved there's more to his batting than just muscle with a fine scoop for six over third man © Chris Whiteoak

Unlucky Tiripano

As far as debuts go, this could have been the stuff dreams are made of. Instead, Donald Tiripano was left wondering what could have been. While his extra pace proved a welcome addition to the Zimbabwe squad, luck simply wasn't on his side. He should have sent back the danger man Mohammad Shahzad off the third ball off of his T20I career. However, what unfolded would have made the romantics eke out a cry of anguish as Shahzad was put down by Chamu Chibhabha at deep midwicket. Adding insult to injury, the ball burst through his hands and went to the boundary.

Masakadza's brain freeze

Pressure can do different things to different people. Ask Hamilton Masakadza, for he would have been replaying an incident that happened in the second over of the match, over and over again. Usman Ghani took off for an absolutely impossible single and was more than halfway down when his partner turned his back on him. Instead of lobbing the ball back to the yelling wicketkeeper, who made all sorts of gestures to get him to throw, Masakadza thought he could do a Jonty Rhodes by running in from point and throwing himself at the stumps. But that leap never came, as he ended up looking embarrassed when the batsman beat him to dive full stretch back into the crease. Masakadza had clearly under-estimated the time it would have taken him to get to the stumps, leaving all his team-mates red-faced.

Naib's Dhoni-like flourish

Watching Gulbadin Naib bat, you couldn't help but wonder why he was kept on cold storage for nearly a year. He can muscle the ball, run well and field like a tiger on the prowl. On Friday, while he kept peppering the leg-side boundary, he also channelised the improviser in him to hit a helicopter hit, albeit over third man. Seeing him walk across repeatedly, Luke Jongwe fired one full and onto the sixth or seventh stump outside off. Astonishingly, Naib used his height to reach out, get underneath the ball and slice it hard enough to clear third man. The final Dhoni-like flourish towards the end for the cameras suggested how immensely satisfied he was with the outcome of the stroke that didn't actually look possible a couple of seconds before he executed it.

Masakadza's riposte and Shahzad's send-off

Three early wickets had Afghanistan fired up. With his confidence sky high, Naib, who is no more than a part-time medium-pacer at best, was given the ball. There was drama immediately. Masakadza hit one back down the pitch, only for Naib to hurl a throw to the wicketkeeper that had Masakadza shaking his head in anger. As if to take it out, the next ball was scooped magnificently over deep backward square leg for a six. It would be the start of a battle within a battle, with Shahzad joining in to give Masakadza an earful every time he was on strike. Five overs later, Masakadza missed a reverse sweep to be bowled, as Shahzad gave him a proper send-off by punching his fists in front of the batsman and giving him a few words. An already upset Masakadza made his displeasure obvious by pointing it out to the umpire, who had to come in the way of the Zimbabwean and the spirited Afghans. Fortunately, the situation was doused by the umpires quickly.

Last over drama

Zimbabwe needed 21 off the last over. Dawlat Zadran, bowling with a greasy ball, nearly made a mess of it. He got away with a high full toss without a warning, and then delivered another one over the waist. He could have been taken off the attack had he received a warming, but the umpires felt the first of the no-balls wouldn't have caused any physical harm to the batsman. Then with six needed off two balls, Zadran flirted with the wide line outside off. The call eventually went in favour of Afghanistan even as a furious Chigumbura kicked the turf in disbelief. That it came right at the end of the nail-biter added to the confusion, with Afghanistan eventually prevailing.

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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