At Dehradun, in the second T20I of the series between Afghanistan and Ireland, spectators were witness to an onslaught like no other. 20-year old Hazratullah Zazai slammed Irish bowlers to the stands with utmost ease and raced to a 42-ball ton, the third fastest by any player in T20I cricket.
The southpaw was in a murderous mood and hit across the line with elegance and flair. Zazai eventually made a record-breaking 162* in 62 balls to record the second highest T20I score. It was also the joint third highest across all T20s, coming a shade behind Chris Gayle's 175* for Royal Challengers Bangalore and Aaron Finch's 172 for Australia.
This is the highest T20I score by an Asian player and Zazai in the process helped Afghanistan to 278/3, the highest ever total in T20 cricket, going past the 263/5 by Royal Challengers Bangalore. Zazai put on 236 runs for the opening wicket with Usman Ghani, the highest partnership in the history of T20 cricket for any wicket.
Zazai and Ghani went past AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli's stand of 229 runs for Royal Challengers Bangalore. The international best opening stand of D'Arcy Short and Aaron Finch was also eclipsed in the process.
Those thinking this is a one-off from the 20-year old are mistaken. Earlier last year, in the Afghanistan Premier League competition, Zazai slammed six sixes in an over off Abdullah Mazari, becoming the sixth to achieve the feat in all major cricket. He had scored his half-century off just 12 balls then, equalling Yuvraj Singh's T20I record.
The left-hander is a truly wonderful T20 cricketer, who has been challenging some of the best names in the format since his debut. For batsmen who have at least 300 runs since Zazai's debut in T20I cricket, the Afghanistan batsman has the highest average of them all.
His 347 runs have come at an average of 86.75, which is way better than the next best of 52.33 by Manish Pandey and 50.76 by Babar Azam. Zazai, on Saturday, took his T20 batting feats to another level by becoming the youngest to score a hundred in the format in international cricket. His 150 came up in 58 balls which makes it the fastest 150 in the history of International cricket. After Rashid Khan, Mujeeb-ur-Rahman and a slew of mystery spinners, Afghanistan seem to have unearthed a batsman of rare skills. The question, though, is if he can keep doing this.
First Published: February 24, 2019, 3:59 PM IST