Dubai: Mohammad Shahzad (124, 116b, 11×4, 7×6) slammed the most significant century of his career to take Afghanistan to 252 for eight against India, lightening up the dead ‘Super Four’ rubber of the Asia Cup here, Tuesday.
The bulky opener also achieved a rare feat as he equalled Pakistan’s Shahid Afridi unique record, when a batsman has scored an ODI hundred in lowest team scores, of completing a ton when the team’s total was just 131 on the board.
While the other batsmen struggled, it seemed the unconventional Shahzad was batting on a different surface. Later, the experienced Mohammad Nabi (64, 56b, 3×4, 4×6) produced a crucial knock to ensure that Afghanistan put up a competitive total.
The undisputed star of the evening was wicketkeeper-batsman Shahzad, who was no short of inspiration in the middle with his role model MS Dhoni, who was captaining the side for 200th time, standing behind the stumps.
While his opening partner Javed Ahmadi (five) was even struggling to get a single, Shazad thoroughly entertained the crowd with a barrage of big hits. He was ruthless especially against the rookie Indian pacers Khaleel Ahmed (1/45), Siddharth Kaul (0/58) and debutant Deepak Chahar (1/37).
The pacers were guilty of bowling too full or too full and Shazad made them pay for their mistakes. He even had his luck on his side as he was dropped at mid-off on way to completing a half century.
It was not a full-strength Indian bowling attack but that takes nothing away from Shahzad’s sensational effort – his fifth ODI ton. His other hundreds had come against Canada, Zimbabwe, Scotland and Netherlands.
Afghanistan would have been in deep trouble if it was not for Shahzad, who was running out of partners at one stage with his team reeling at 82 for four from 65 for no loss after Indian spinners Kuldeep Yadav (2/38) and Ravindra Jadeja (3/46) came into play.
Shahzad was then joined by Gulbadin Naib (15, 46b) and the two shared a 50-run stand for the fifth wicket before Nabi onslaught enabled the Afghans cross 250.
Afghanistan 252/8 (Mohammad Shahzad 124, Mohammad Nabi 64; Ravindra Jadeja 3/46, Kuldeep Yadav 2/38) vs India. Match to continue.