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ESPNcricinfo Awards 2016 Associate batting winner: Right, said Mo

Mohammad Shahzad's swashbuckling century secured Afghanistan's fourth series victory over Zimbabwe in the space of three months

Mohammad Shahzad got to his century in only 52 balls, Afghanistan v Zimbabwe, 2nd T20I, Sharjah, January 2016

Afghanistan's charismatic opener is not one for half-measures  •  Chris Whiteoak

Afghanistan is a team full of entertainers but perhaps no one in their squad has a bigger sense of showmanship than wicketkeeper-batsman Shahzad. Whether it is his range of shots, which includes a helicopter whip modelled after MS Dhoni or his growing ability to rise to the occasion against top-class opposition, he exudes a certain charisma that sets him apart from the rest of the XI.
And rise to the occasion Shahzad most certainly did when he conjured up an unbeaten 118 off 67 balls to clinch a fourth consecutive limited-overs series win over Zimbabwe in the space of three months. It took him eight balls to hit his first six on the evening, but by the end of his knock he had done it seven more times, and hit ten fours besides.
Shahzad likes to ham it up when celebrating even minor milestones, and has made a habit of taking off his helmet and posing for the crowd with arms extended when crossing fifty, as he did again on this night, but the landmark century moment - off a single in the 14th over - was something any superstar would be keen to milk for all it was worth, and Shahzad basked in the adulation of the Afghanistan supporters present, sprinting through the crease and giving his bat a swirl during as he made a small leap in the air.
By the time he reached triple figures, off 52 balls, Shahzad had made more than two-thirds of Afghanistan's runs. The emotion and the ferocity with which he attacked Zimbabwe's bowlers during the first hour at the crease left him drained - he fell over while completing a paddle scoop over fine leg for his final boundary to end the 17th, and remained seated on the crease in exhaustion for several moments afterward - and was the main factor that kept him from scoring more than 18 off his final six overs at the crease.

Key moment

After bringing up his fifty in the eighth over, Shahzad was licking his lips at the prospect of taking on legspinner Graeme Cremer, who had conceded just two runs in his first over and taken the wicket of Usman Ghani. On the last ball of the ninth, Shahzad skipped down the track to a flatter delivery from Cremer but was still able to get to the pitch of the ball. He then flicked it high over midwicket, over the stands and completely out of the ground and onto the street. It was a six that showed Shahzad and Afghanistan didn't want to just beat Zimbabwe one more time, they wanted to pummel them into submission. Just to show it was no fluke, he stayed in his crease to wallop Cremer out of the stadium and into the road once more in the 11th.

The numbers

118 Shahzad's score was the highest T20I score for Afghanistan.
1 Shahzad became the first player to score a T20I century in the UAE.
8 The number of sixes Shahzad hit in his innings - the most in a T20I innings by an Associate player.

What they said

"Cars outside in danger! Shahzad almost batting Zimbabwe out of this game. Fantastic innings. Cleared the crowd, cleared the fence, cleared the stands. It's just brilliant hitting from Shahzad!"
- Bazid Khan, on TV commentary, after Shahzad's six in the 11th over off Cremer landed in the street

The closest contenders

Ed Joyce, 160 not out v Afghanistan, fifth ODI, Belfast
Perhaps fired up by his controversial run-out earlier in the series, Joyce scored big in the last match to level the series 2-2.
Gulbadin Naib, 82 not out v Zimbabwe, fifth ODI, Sharjah
Gulbadin's nerveless innings helped Afghanistan gun down a steep target of 249, clinching the series decider.

Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent. @PeterDellaPenna