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Shahzad's impressive century steers Afghanistan to 252

25 Sep 2018 CricBuzz

Mohammad Shahzad cracked a superlative 124 to lift Afghanistan to a sizeable 252 for 8 in their inconsequential Super Four game versus India in the Asia Cup 2018 in Dubai, on Tuesday (September 25).

The Nangarhar-born opener carried the batting unit on his shoulders as he accumulated 68.8% of the first 180 runs scored by Afghanistan. The significance of the right-hander's knock can be capsulised by the point that until the 26th over of the innings no other batsman had scored a boundary. Eventually, Gulbadin Naib collected a boundary via a top-edged pull off Siddarth Kaul.

During the course of the innings, Shahzad on occasions, was beaten, but each time it felt as if he had erased his memory of the previous delivery that had whistled past his bat. He took a heavy toll of especially Ravindra Jadeja and Deepak Chahar and crunched seven sixes in total. The highlight of his innings was perhaps the six he cracked off Jadeja into the downtown territories.

Shahzad also showed the required batting aptitude as he played with a degree of caution against Kuldeep Yadav. The only chance he provided was in the ninth over when he was dropped off Siddarth Kaul's bowling. He was also adjudged caught behind in the 21st over off Khaleel Ahmed. However, Shahzad took the review and replays suggested that it had come via the shoulder. Hence, the decision was overturned.

Eventually, after exploring every nook and cranny of the ground, Shahzad mistimed one to Dinesh Karthik at long off and was dismissed in the 38th over. As he trudged his way back to the pavilion, the opener received a standing ovation for his brilliant hundred. Once Shahzad was dislodged, Nabi and Najibullah Zadran stitched a crucial stand of 46 for the seventh wicket to raise hopes of Afghanistan reaching a good total. Nabi showed his experience by blending a diet of singles and twos alongside a few delightful shots off Kaul and Kuldeep. Afghanistan, however, lost a bit of momentum after the dismissals of Nabi and Najibullah, as they collected only 24 runs in their final five overs.

For India, Kuldeep and Jadeja bagged five wickets between them. Kuldeep, in particular, put Afghanistan under pressure by snaring the scalps of Hashmatullah Shahidi and Gulbadin Naib in consecutive deliveries to leave them in a spot of bother at 82 for 4. The promising spinner mainly used the chinaman and found enough turn to keep the opposition on tenterhooks. On the other hand, India's pace bowling unit sorely missed the services of Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, both of whom were rested for the game. In their absence, Chahar, Kaul and Khaleel combined to give away 140 runs in just 23 overs.

The track at the Dubai International Stadium tends to skid on under lights. So India should fancy their chances of chasing down the target. However, they are missing the services of the experienced opening duo of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan after India decided to rest them. With the think tank deciding to rest Rohit, MS Dhoni got the opportunity to captain the Indian side for the 200th time in ODIs. Meanwhile, Afghanistan would be sweating over the fitness of their star spinner, Rashid Khan, as he seemed to have picked up a hamstring injury at the fag end of the innings.

Brief scores: Afghanistan 252/8 in 50 overs (Mohammad Shahzad 124, Mohammad Nabi 64; Ravindra Jadeja 3-46, Kuldeep Yadav 2-38) vs India.

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Original Link: https://www.cricbuzz.com/cricket-news/104234/mohammad-shahzads-impressive-century-steers-afghanistan-to-252-against-india-in-asia-cup-2018

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