Bangladesh v Pakistan, World T20, Group 2, Mirpur

Shehzad ticks off Pakistan's missing landmark

Given all Pakistan's success in T20 it was incongruous that they were the only one of the top eight nations not to have an individual hundred: Ahmed Shehzad picked the perfect moment to change that

Abhishek Purohit in Mirpur

March 30, 2014

Comments: 16 | Text size: A | A
Highlights: Shehzad's ton

Pakistan have played the most number of T20s and won the most number of T20s. They have been the most consistent side in the World T20, winning the title in 2009, making it to the final in 2007, and reaching the semi-finals in 2010 and 2012. It is a disservice to what Pakistan have achieved in Tests and one-dayers when it is said that their style of play is naturally suited to T20s. However, that their flair is often expressed more freely, and causes more impact, in the shortest format cannot be denied.

Given this, it was a bit incongruous that all the top eight Test nations had T20 centurions before this afternoon, barring Pakistan. Even England, limited-over cricket's bridesmaids or under-achievers for so long barring 2010, had joined the list with Alex Hales' effort against Sri Lanka three days ago in Chittagong. Ahmed Shehzad has corrected that anomaly with his unbeaten 111 against Bangladesh.

Shehzad could have put Pakistan on the list in August last year. He was on 97 against Zimbabwe and facing the last ball of the innings. He had a go, but could not place it wide enough of deep midwicket, and had to settle for a single. It was already the highest score by a Pakistan batsman in T20s.

In a way, it was probably fitting that the landmark did not come in a two-game bilateral series and was achieved in a world event with plenty riding on the outcome of the match. Pakistan needed to beat Bangladesh for their final group game against West Indies to remain a virtual quarter-final.

Your Nos. 2, 3 and 4 making 9, 8 and 0 after you have chosen to bat is not the way you want to begin a must-win game. Your No. 5 then comes in and struggles to time the ball. Normally, all this would have spelled trouble for the batting side, but Shehzad was in such supreme flow that these happenings at the other end barely registered, or mattered.

Shehzad's touch was evident from the manner in which he stepped out and timed Mashrafe Mortaza comfortably over the straight boundary as early as the third over, in which he had already taken three successive fours off the bowler. Shehzad was to take 87 off 39 deliveries against the Bangladesh seamers. He had seen Kamran Akmal fall in the second over of spin, to a ball that gripped, spun and bounced enough for him to top-edge a sweep.

Shehzad said the plan had been to target the seamers, as Pakistan knew it would be relatively harder against spin on a slow pitch. "In Bangladesh, the ball does spin and grip," Shehzad said. "The idea was to score as much as possible against the fast bowlers so that we don't have to try anything extra against the spinners, take as little risk as possible against them. It was expected that in a 3.30pm [start], the ball will grip."

With plans sorted and execution happening so smoothly, it had to be a question of not giving it away. The first three Pakistan batsmen did. Shehzad threatened to, when a top-edged pull off Shakib Al Hasan fell in the vacant midwicket beating several advancing fielders, but by that time he was already in the eighties.

At 71 for 3 in the tenth over, a total of 190 seemed unlikely but Shehzad was able to forge a partnership of 83 with Shoaib Malik, who may have made only 26 but had a major role in helping his junior partner reach his century, Shehzad said. "Unfortunately we lost three early wickets but when Shoaib bhai came in, we had a very good partnership. He had a big role to play in my hundred because he ran brilliantly between the wickets. When you run well, then you don't have to take many risks. He also gets a lot of credit for my hundred."

Probably the only thing that did not fit in an otherwise remarkable display of strokeplay was Shehzad's attempted paddle-sweeps, which he missed on every attempt. Shehzad said there was a thought behind those endeavours, even though they did not come off. "It is to disturb the bowler, you can't be predictable in this format because the bowlers have become very sharp, they work hard and come up with plans. The paddle I didn't connect but fine leg went out and covers came up. So I hit two fours over cover. That is the thing, to manoeuvre the field, get into the minds of the captain and the bowlers. This is what T20 cricket is about."

Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by PlayfromDallas on (March 31, 2014, 19:16 GMT)

Part 1: To Purohit, Rajeeshkumar: One has to be clear; Ahmed Shahzad's T20 century is not a landmark in Pakistan. This article reflects some bias and reflects Indian cricketing school of thought i.e. needed a response. When Kapil Dev made 1st ODI century for India in WC 1983 vs Zimbabwe Pakistan already had more than 20 ODI centuries in its bucket; those 20 centuries were not landmark for Pakistan nor did we write anything about Kapil Dev century as land mark for India. The point I have made that Pakistan cricketing school of thought is different than Indian, this fundament difference must be understood before writing an article on Pakistan's cricket achievements. Pakistan is not into the numbers game where as India is in numbers game heavily.

Posted by PlayfromDallas on (March 31, 2014, 19:13 GMT)

Part 2: In my comments I have provide prove that T20 centuries were not scored because In Pakistan it is more important to win the game than paying attention to individual century. Ian Chappell also said that "For Indian people it is ok to lose the game as long Tendulker scores century" Since Mr. Purohit is an Indian and his thoughts reflects in this article when he said "Ahmed Shehzad's century is a landmark" it may be for him but I like to assure Indian audience that in Pakistan it is absolutely not a landmark. Winning the match had far greater importance and it will always be the case. It is not about bringing a retired player into this conversation; that retired player was just fine, it is about Indian thought process of evaluating a situation. This article could be great for Indian audience but not for Pakistani audience because we approach the game differently.

Posted by ICCexpert.... on (March 31, 2014, 10:01 GMT)

Moin and Zaheer need to use there brain, they have to be bold and replace this Malik from the team, I know Hafeez cant take action bcoz he is not performing as captain.

Posted by subcontinent-expert on (March 31, 2014, 9:52 GMT)

I think the world should watch out for Shehzad who could be the next Big Thing in cricket (specially limited overs)........Way to go Shehzad.....!!!!!

Posted by RAJEESHKUMAR on (March 31, 2014, 8:56 GMT)

To playfromdullas:there is no need to drag a retired player into this context and there is no need to view the article an anti pakistani one. The part of the title, the missing landmark says it all. It would have been injustice to pak if the article wad publishef before shehzad hitting ton. Now for the record, srt is not the only great batsman who didnt have 300. And i remember umar akmal claiming injured once when kamran akmal who was terribly out of form is to be dropped , of course for the unnegotiable consideration for winning.

Posted by   on (March 31, 2014, 8:42 GMT)

Thanks writer, enjoyed it. My fellow Pakistan readers, we must not get negative in everything we see :)

Posted by barryrichardsfan on (March 31, 2014, 8:21 GMT)

Shehzad looks like the solution for the ever fragile PAk batting card.He has looked at ease against the likes of Steyn and Morkel in recent series. Maqsood also promises much and will get better with experience. Way to go!

Posted by RAJEESHKUMAR on (March 31, 2014, 6:56 GMT)

To playfromdullas:there is no need to drag a retired player into this context and there is no need to view the article an anti pakistani one. The part of the title, the missing landmark says it all. It would have been injustice to pak if the article wad publishef before shehzad hitting ton. Now for the record, srt is not the only great batsman who didnt have 300. And i remember umar akmal claiming injured once when kamran akmal who was terribly out of form is to be dropped , of course for the unnegotiable consideration for winning.

Posted by   on (March 31, 2014, 6:00 GMT)

im expecting a ind pak final again. a close clash than t he previous one

Posted by PlayfromDallas on (March 31, 2014, 0:14 GMT)

To Abhishek Purohit: "Given this, it was a bit incongruous that all the top eight Test nations had T20 centurions before this afternoon, barring Pakistan." On the same line can we say: It is a bit incongruous that great batsmen in cricket history have triple hundred beside Tendulker? Pakistan getting 1st T20 100 now? It is because Pakistan cricketing school of thought is different than Indian. In India it is ok to loose a game as long Tendulker gets the 100 runs; this is contrary to Pakistani thinking. Not having century in T20 only proves one point Pakistan was focused on winning than individual century. In Pakistan it is absolutely unacceptable to support a contest based on individual's century; scoring 100 runs or more is fine but winning the match in Non-Negotiable.

Posted by n_Sid on (March 30, 2014, 21:29 GMT)

Perfect innings by Shahzad .. plus great to see Malik among the runs, need him to fire as Pak has too many hitters in the team right now

All in all Pak has tested out all there options now. .Umar and Kamran have played well, Afridi looked good, bowling working and now Shahzad and malik performed too ... only Hafeez hasn't played well yet but thats fine

Posted by Desihungama on (March 30, 2014, 19:58 GMT)

This guy is destined for greatness. He has it in him to become the match winner for Pakistan on the likes of Miandad, Anwar, Inzamam, Youhana, Akram and Afridi, who has the most MoM for Pak. Shehzad has a cool thinking head unseen in Pakistan dressing since the retirement of Inzamam. Amazing how India/Pakistan best batsmen even look alike.

Posted by   on (March 30, 2014, 19:57 GMT)

congratulationb for ahmed shahzad 1st hundred in t20 for pakistan.

Posted by   on (March 30, 2014, 18:26 GMT)

Yeah top stuff by Shahzad. Brilliant hitting. Bright future.

Posted by Akram567 on (March 30, 2014, 17:21 GMT)

I had to wait so long to see hundred from Pakistan after their international Debute in T20

Posted by   on (March 30, 2014, 15:34 GMT)

well played by shehzad. this was a super innings. shots he played were great. paddle sweeps were funny. when you are hitting nicely then why would you do that. hit a lovely boundary right after 1 of missed paddle sweep.

had been poor in last 2 games but came good.

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