Batting first, Afghanistan’s batsmen took full toll on the Irish bowlers to rack up a mammoth 278-3 in their 20 overs. It is the highest total ever recorded in a T20 international, beating the previous highest score of 263-3 by Australia against Sri Lanka in 2016.
It was opening batsman Hazratullah Zazai who was the star of the show with the left-hander amassing an unbeaten 162 off just 62 deliveries with the help of a staggering 16 sixes and 11 boundaries.
The 16 sixes struck from Zazai’s bat is now the world-record for the most by any batsman in a T20I, overtaking the 14 sixes slammed by Aaron Finch against Zimbabwe.
Zazai’s 162, however, fell 10 runs short of the highest individual score in T20Is which was recorded by Finch during his innings of 172 against Zimbabwe.
Zazai and Usman Ghani put on a sensational opening stand on Saturday with the duo adding a world-record 236 runs for the first wicket. The previous highest opening stand in T20I cricket was the 223 runs added by D’Arcy Short and Finch against Zimbabwe.
Afghanistan batsman Hazratullah Zazai hits:— Sir Jadeja fan (@SirJadeja) February 23, 2019
👉Highest no. of sixes in a T20I (16)
👉3rd fastest century in a T20I (42 balls)
👉2nd highest individual score in a T20I (162* off 62 balls)
As Afghanistan hits highest ever score in a T20I 278/3. #AFGvIRE pic.twitter.com/Xj16wWforv
Ghani was ultimately dismissed for a 48-ball 73 but Mohammad Nabi continued Afghanistan’s onslaught in a five-ball cameo that included two sixes and a boundary.
In total, Afghanistan struck a whopping 22 sixes in their innings on their way to 278-3.
Ireland fought fire with fire with skipper Paul Stirling starting off his side’s chase with a first-ball six off Mujeeb ur Rahman. Stirling registered the highest score by an Irish batsman in T20Is before he was dismissed for a 50-ball 91.
Once Stirling departed, it was star leg-spinner Rashid Khan who took control for Afghanistan with a four-wicket haul that sealed a crushing win for his side.
The Afghans have now taken an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series with the final T20 set to take place at the same venue on Sunday.
Hazratullah Zazai: 162 not out (62)
Usman Ghani: 73 (48)
Paul Stirling: 91 (50)
Rashid Khan: 4-25
England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has admitted that getting Indian players to feature in the inaugural edition of ‘The Hundred’ is looking unlikely at the moment.
The ECB had devised the latest 100-ball format in a bid to arrest the declining popularity of the sport in England with the tournament set to run concurrently with the domestic 50-over competition.
When announcing the plans for ‘The Hundred’ last year, the ECB had stated that it envisioned top India stars playing in the competition. However, chief executive Tom Harrison has revealed that prospect looks an unlikely one with the BCCI hesitant to release any contracted Indian players for overseas leagues.
“I can’t commit to the involvement of India players. It’s a political conversation as much as anything,” Harrison was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo.
“It’s a difficult conversation. It’s not just the ECB and The Hundred that will be keen to get Indian players involved. Clearly that’s a wider discussion,” he added.
The playing conditions for ‘The Hundred’ were released recently by the ECB and the board remains hopeful of the participation of top players despite the scepticism surrounding the newest format.
“I think players will want to play in The Hundred. We’ll demonstrate an ambition behind this that is very pure and can enhance players’ skills under pressure. Hundred-ball cricket will deliver more of those key moments when players have to deliver under serious pressure. We’ll make it attractive to players to come and play,” Harrison explained.
While India skipper Virat Kohli had questioned the approach of introducing another format, West Indies stalwart Chris Gayle has recently expressed his desire to participate in the competition.
With the victory, the islanders became only the third side ever in history after England and Australia and the first from Asia to win a Test series on South African soil.
Having won the first Test at Durban in dramatic fashion by one wicket, the Sri Lankans showed no signs of any nerves on day three at Port Elizabeth as they completed a tricky chase without too much fuss.
Resuming from their overnight score of 60-2 in the final innings, Mendis and Fernando were not to be shaken as they collected runs at a fair clip. Both the batsmen brought up their respective half-centuries in the first session itself on Saturday with South Africa’s bowlers finding absolutely no joy.
Mendis remained unbeaten on 84 (110) while Fernando made 75 (106) as Sri Lanka cruised to a win without any trouble. The duo shared an unbeaten 163-run stand off just 213 deliveries for the third wicket which was incidentally the first century partnership by either side in the series.
Earlier on day two, Sri Lanka pacer Suranga Lakmal picked up a four-wicket haul as South Africa were bowled out for just 128 runs in their second innings. The hosts had managed to take a 68-run lead in the first-innings after scoring 222 runs before bundling out Sri Lanka for 154.
Kusal Mendis was awarded the man-of-the-match while Kusal Perera was awarded the man-of-the-series for his sensational unbeaten 153 in the first Test at Durban.
South Africa: 222 and 128
Sri Lanka: 154 and 197-2
Kusal Mendis: 84 not out (110)
Oshada Fernando: 75 not out (106)