Mohammad Shahzad is a famous Afghan cricket player. He was born in 1988 in Jalalabad, the capital city of Nangarhar province. He made it into Afghanistan's national cricket team by the time he was in his early 20s. His primary role is of a wicketkeeper and a strong right-handed batsman. Through a series of memorable performances, he has become one of the most celebrated batsman in Afghanistan with his name in the history book. According to the current ICC (International Cricket Council) rankings, he is one of the top ten batsman in the world.
Like any sport, it is the exceptional individual that will make the difference in helping a team to succeed. Indeed, the outstanding performance of Mohammad Shahzad has significantly contributed towards the success of the Afghan cricket team. The ICC rating in January 2016, placed Afghanistan among the top 10 teams in the world; a remarkable achievement in a very short space of time. Afghanistan looks set to becoming a major cricketing nation, following the footsteps of their neighbouring cricketing giants, Pakistan and India.
Mohammad Shahzad made his mark on his first-class debut against Zimbabwe XI in the 2009 ICC World Cup Qualifiers. Subsequently, in that same year, the team went on the tour of the Netherlands where he made Afghan cricket history as the first Afghan to score a century and helped the team to achieve their maiden first-class win. It was in a One Day International match, and Afghanistan won it by six wickets, an incredible performance.
In the following year, Mohammad Shahzad made his T20I debut against Ireland. Later, in the Intercontinental Cup, he became the first Afghan to score a first-class double century at the age of 22 and beat Canada chasing a score of 494 runs.
In 2012, he became the first Afghan cricketer to make 1000 first-class career runs and played in the side put together to face England as a part of their preparation for the series against Pakistan. Mohammad Shahzad was also a part of the 2014 Asia Cup squad but did not produce a significant performance for the team. But he was named Man of the Match in the World T20 tournament in a match against Hong Kong, and helped Afghanistan chase 153 runs with a brilliant score of 68.
In January 2016, Mohammad Shahzad made cricket history for Afghanistan, as he hit the fourth highest score in Twenty20 international history in his side's easy win over Zimbabwe; he became the first Afghan player to reach three figures in a T20 tournament. He hit an astonishing ten fours and eight sixes helping Afghanistan set an enormous target of 216 for a victory that Zimbabwe fell 81 runs short of achieving. Mohammad Shahzad did not relent in the field either, the famous wicketkeeper produced stumpings to remove two players then helped to run out the third for a duck as Zimbabwe's batting capitulated.
Given the recent performance against Zimbabwe, there is great anticipation that there is much more to come from this exceptional Afghan cricketer, and inspire a new generation of cricketers.
by Yamin Zakaria / February 26, 2016
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