Afghanistan v Zimbabwe, 2nd T20I, Sharjah January 10, 2016

Belligerent Shahzad ton propels Afghanistan to series win


Afghanistan 215 for 6 (Shahzad 118*) beat Zimbabwe 134 (Masakadza 63, Moor 35, Hamza 2-15) by 81 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Mohammad Shahzad's 118 was the highest individual T20I score from an Associate nation and fourth overall © Chris Whiteoak

Mohammad Shahzad displayed trademark brute force and timing to make a record-breaking ton and lead Afghanistan to an 81-run win against Zimbabwe in the second T20I in Sharjah. Shahzad clobbered a 67-ball 118, the highest individual score from an Associate nation in T20Is and fourth overall. By the time he was done, Zimbabwe had conceded 215 and were deflated.

That the next highest contribution after Shahzad's blitzkrieg was Mohammad Nabi's brisk 22, was symbolic of the ascendancy he had over Zimbabwe's helpless bowling attack. He got stuck into the medium-pacers as well as the spinners after a slow start, peppering the midwicket region with pulls and slog-sweeps. Within 14 overs, he reached his century and had batted Zimbabwe out of the series.

The Afghanistan innings had begun in amateurish fashion - a lot of shots but few runs. Both Shahzad and Usman Ghani looked to hit the cover off the ball, and thereby lost their shape and failed to find any timing. The first five overs produced 30.

Spin was introduced after the Powerplay and Shahzad used his technique with success - dancing down the pitch, going deep in the crease or down on one knee after a premeditated shuffle. Afghanistan had 59, and Shahzad 50. He connected with most of his sweeps and swipes, using his muscle to clear the boundary with ease.

Zimbabwe's bowlers repeatedly landed deliveries in Shahzad's hitting arc. Under duress, yorkers were attempted but were dispatched after ending up as low full-tosses. Legspinner Graeme Cremer went around the wicket to try and take the ball away from the right-hander. Shahzad shuffled across, bent down on one knee and slog-swept him to the midwicket boundary. When he got to his hundred, his joy was evident in his celebration as he removed his helmet and did the sajda.

When Zimbabwe's bowlers created a rare opportunity, their fielders let them down. At least three chances were spilled, including two off Shahzad - a hard running catch at long-on was parried to the boundary, and wicketkeeper Richmond Mutumbami, failed to get much glove on a skier. Shahzad was given another reprieve in the 16th over, on 101. Nabi had called him for a quick single but Shahzad failed to make his ground at the striker's end when the bails were whipped off. The third umpire, however, was not called upon.

Shahzad had laid the platform for the other batsmen to launch from the get-go. Despite struggling for timing, all the batsmen barring Ghani had strike-rates over 130 and at least one boundary.

Zimbabwe, who had never won a T20I series comprising more than one game, were never in the chase. Save Hamilton Masakadza, the rest of the top six contributed a total of five runs, as they slumped to 34 for 5 in the sixth over. Mutumbami and Sikandar Raza were comfortably stumped off deliveries that slid in with the arm and sneaked past the inside edge. Malcolm Waller misjudged a skidder and captain Elton Chigumbura was run out after looking for a run during an lbw appeal. The chase was done.

Masakadza and Peter Moor displayed a range of strokes and found a boundary almost every over, but the required run rate had touched 20. Masakadza, Zimbabwe's best batsman on the tour, looked comfortable for the duration of his stay. He lofted a Dawlat Zadran delivery with such splendid timing that it cleared the midwicket boundary and took him past Chigumbura as the Zimbabwe batsman with the most T20I sixes.

Masakadza struck his eighth fifty but it barely had any impact on the game. By the time he was bowled for 63, an innings that featured two fours and five sixes, Zimbabwe required 102 from 26 balls. The lower order could not achieve much, and slogged catches to fielders. Zimbabwe's misery ended when a casual Tendai Chisoro was run out after failing to ground his bat.

Nikhil Kalro is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Geeva on January 13, 2016, 7:56 GMT

    amazed at the progress of Afghanistan beating Zim is big achievement..need more matches against Pak SL and NZ and Bang to measure there progress.....Question what is going on with Zim cricket?

  • Cricinfouser on January 13, 2016, 6:10 GMT

    @greenshirts lovers First of all, we are called Afghans and our currency is called Afghani.

    Furthermore, Afghanistan is not a Commonwealth nation and we didn't inherit cricket due to colonization like the rest of the countries from the subcontinent, which makes our rise in cricket phenomenal because we have only played cricket for a dozen years or so.

    Appreciate the talent and athleticism displayed by Afghans and give credit where it is due.

    We will continue to climb the rankings whether you like it or not. Ireland is below our level now and the rankings prove that.

    Shahzad is the only Asian among the top five record holders for most runs scored in a Twenty20 match. Stop the hate and appreciate.

  • Alexander on January 12, 2016, 8:41 GMT

    If all was well this should have been Zim's eleven. 1 James Cameron 2 Hamilton Masakadza 3 Gary Ballance 4 Brendon Taylor 5 Tatenda Taibu 6 Grand De Hormme 7 Sean Ervine 8 Sean William 9 Solomon Mire 10 Kyle Jarvis 11 Tendai Chatara 12th man Sikander Butt. But a lot of players mentioned above and others like the Curan brothers are not around and the question to ZC is why.

  • Andy on January 12, 2016, 0:28 GMT

    @abdulhaq22: I'm pretty sure IPL team selectors are keenly watching everything around, including the Afghan series, BBL. If I have to take a wild guess, I would say at least 2-3 Afghans & 2 new BD players would would be picked in this year's auction. Not sure about the rest though.

  • Sadman on January 11, 2016, 21:38 GMT

    Future odi ranking after 2019 WC would be like 1. Australia, 2. India, 3. England, 4. New Zealand, 5. Bangladesh, 6. Pakistan, 7. South Africa, 8. Sri lanka, 9. Afghanistan, 10. West indies, 11. Ireland, 12. Scotland, 13. Zimbabwe.... Mark my words. I do predict the future.

  • Rehan on January 11, 2016, 21:31 GMT

    In my opinion the notion of full member vs associate members is damaging for teams like Zimbabwe. There are at least 25-30 cricket playing countries and Zimbabwe clearly is stronger than a large number of them. Why do they have to live with the tag of the "lowest ranked full member" and always be in the spotlight as having to justify being a full member. Let all the teams be on an open ranking system and let them take whatever place they naturally occupy in the rankings based on their performance.

  • Musty on January 11, 2016, 21:08 GMT

    Afghans in Australia was immature now they have improved a lot besides you can't compare Brazil to Australia in a soccer game. Afghanistan have very short history of cricket also having to deal with war and limited opportunity to still play cricket and win matches i believe it is a big achievement.

  • Musty on January 11, 2016, 21:01 GMT

    @Pakistastic every success that afghan make a pakistani will own it. this mentality shows that pakistanis have no regard for afghans whatsoever. our new generation has better talent and the under 19 is having much better success. even now the youngsters have won this series who have no contact with inzimam or any pakistani, they are purely Afghan domestic academy result

  • Brokensaint on January 11, 2016, 20:59 GMT

    I think Zimbabwe might be in danger of losing there test status at this rate. can't believe that a country that reached semis at a cwc is no losing to second tiered nations. prime example of politics in sport gone wrong.

  • Khalid on January 11, 2016, 20:13 GMT

    Let Hamid Hassan and Shapoor Zadran come back, it will be an interesting T20 World cup in March 2016.

    My favourite T20 2016 Squad: Shezad & Usman (Operners) 3. Noor Ali Zadran. 4. Nabi, 5. Asghar, 6. Naib, 7. Shafiqullah. 8. Rashid Khan, 9. Dawalat Zadran, 10. Shapoor Zadran and 11. Hamid Hassa.

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