Associate batting nominees January 16, 2017

All-Afghan (almost)

ESPNcricinfo staff
A certain team features in four out of five nominations for the best Associate batting performances of the year
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When Mohammad Shahzad scores runs, he does so in style © Chris Whiteoak

Click here for the Associate bowling shortlist

Mohammad Shahzad
118 not out v Zimbabwe
second T20I, Sharjah

Afghanistan were targeting twin 2-0 sweeps in the T20I legs of their home and away series against Zimbabwe, and Shahzad clinched it in style by striking his country's maiden T20I century and only the second one ever by an Associate player. He hit a six and two fours off consecutive balls from Chamu Chibhabha in the eighth over, surviving a difficult chance in the process, to bring up his half-century in 30 balls. He targeted Chibhabha again in the 13th for two more sixes to move into the 90s, before bringing up his hundred in the following over, off 52 balls. In all, he struck ten fours and eight sixes as Afghanistan ended on 215 - plenty enough to defend in the end, as they won by 81 runs. It was a victory that set the tone for their thumping win against the same opponent in the opening round of the World T20 in India two months later.

Gulbadin Naib pummels one of his six sixes against Zimbabwe in Sharjah © Chris Whiteoak

Gulbadin Naib
82 not out v Zimbabwe
fifth ODI, Sharjah

After Shahzad's ton gave Afghanistan a 2-0 lead, Zimbabwe clawed back to level the five-match ODI series heading into the decider in Sharjah. Hamilton Masakadza's first-innings century helped set Afghanistan a stiff target of 249, and the chase was in peril at 121 for 5 when Gulbadin arrived. He was on 13 off 20 balls in the 35th over when the sixth wicket fell with the score at 146, prompting a now-or-never counterattack. He cranked medium-pacer Luke Jongwe for two of his six sixes in the 44th over. Then, with Afghanistan needing ten off the final over with two wickets in hand, Gulbadin struck a four off the second legitimate ball and a six off the fourth to secure a dramatic series win with two balls to spare.

After his controversial run-out earlier in the series, Ed Joyce ran Afghanistan ragged in the decider © Seb Daly

Ed Joyce
160 not out v Afghanistan
fifth ODI, Belfast

The frenemy relationship between Afghanistan and Ireland had taken a bitter turn in the second ODI, in Belfast. Joyce had been run out in controversial circumstances after having stopped in the middle of the pitch, believing a ball he had struck through the covers had crossed the boundary rope before Mohammad Nabi retrieved it - something TV replays (not allowed for use by the third umpire) later confirmed. With Ireland 2-1 down heading into the final match of the series, Joyce ensured no such mishap would curtail his innings this time. A struggling Ireland batting unit piggybacked the left-hander to a total of 265 for 5, which was good enough for a 12-run win to earn a series draw.

Bespectacled and dangerous: Amir Ali's ambush helped Oman to a famous win over Ireland © Associated Press

Amir Ali
32 v Ireland
World T20, Dharamsala

One of the most dramatic matches in World T20 history provided perhaps the most shocking result of the 2016 edition, with a bespectacled hero in the middle of it all. Seven batsmen crossed 20 in this contest but none reached 40; Amir's cameo was the most golden of all these little nuggets. Entering at 90 for 5, with Oman needing 65 in six overs, Amir's ambush left Ireland shellshocked. He repeatedly zinged them at the end of an over to negate any early pressure, hitting a six to end the 15th, a four to cap the 16th, then a trio of fours to finish the 17th. He was finally dismissed with Oman needing three from two balls, which came courtesy a Max Sorensen no-ball that beat Niall O'Brien behind the stumps to go to the rope for five extras.

"Baby Afridi" brought out his A-game to upset the soon-to-be-crowned world champions © AFP

Najibullah Zadran
48 not out v West Indies
World T20, Nagpur

"Baby Afridi" in Afghanistan's middle order, Najibullah had shown the odd flash of his immense promise without ever maximising the opportunities that came his way. In a low-scoring contest against the eventual world champions, he curbed his natural big-hitting instincts early in his innings after entering at 52 for 4 in the 11th over. Apart from a six hit off Darren Sammy two balls into the 16th, Najibullah played a relatively sedate innings on a sluggish pitch, but it was in the final over that he shone against one of cricket's premier death bowlers, Dwayne Bravo. Najibullah produced a switch hit for four off the first ball, and then carved another boundary through cover off the fifth. The 11 run that came off the over proved crucial in Afghanistan's eventual six-run win.

Click here for the Associate bowling shortlist

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • AkshayG on February 4, 2017, 10:07 GMT

    One and only Mohammad Shahzad

  • cricfan14809397 on January 31, 2017, 6:30 GMT

    Mohammad Shahzad, Wk Batsman from Afghanistan

  •   Subhransu Sekhar Sahoo on January 17, 2017, 13:09 GMT

    1) Ed Joyce 2) M Shahzad 3) Nazib

  • AjitPS on January 17, 2017, 12:13 GMT

    1) M. Shahzad 2) E. Joyce 3) G. Naib

  •   MoneerAhmadIhsas on January 15, 2017, 5:04 GMT

    It is a good news for afghans that 3 of five players are listed for associate batting nominees

  • HundredUp on January 14, 2017, 16:48 GMT

    Its 3 out of 5 for Afghanistan, not 4

  • cricfan10041234 on January 14, 2017, 13:03 GMT

    I am so happy to see such a title ( bat like an Afghan ) despite all those sad news every day, literally have tears in my eyes

  • Cricinfouser on January 14, 2017, 7:26 GMT

    All are good but don't forget Gulbadin Innings

  • Zahirshah on January 14, 2017, 5:23 GMT

    Afghanistan has some good talents, Nabi, Shehzad, Rashid and the little Afridi Najeebullah, I believe if Afghanistan get more chances these players can deposit on their abilities and who knows Afghanistan may also produce ABD's and Kohlis...

  • chitrabhanu on January 14, 2017, 3:16 GMT

    I think the "big eater" Shehzad is one of the most exciting batsman of the modern game. People actually come in the ground to get entertained by him. Has a great personality too

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