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Shahzad century keeps Afghanistan on course

Side grabs overall lead of 133 on day two of Intercontinental Cup game, after Dai hits maiden first-class ton to take PNG to 295

Shahzad century keeps Afghanistan on course - Cricket News
Mohammad Shehzad scored 116 to help Afghanistan end Day 2 on 284 for 3.

Afghanistan bounced back superbly on the second day of the Intercontinental Cup clash against Papua New Guinea courtesy an aggressive century from Mohammad Shahzad on Sunday (November 22). 

Afghanistan was restricted for 144 in the first innings and then conceded a crucial 151-run lead after the bowlers bowled out PNG for 295. 

By the time stumps were drawn, Afghanistan was 284 for 3, with an overall lead of 133, at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium with Hashmatullah Shahidi unbeaten on 92 and Asghar Stanikzai unbeaten on a 68-ball 45.

But that fact that PNG chased down 305 against Netherlands to win its maiden Intercontinental Cup game means Afghanistan has plenty of work still left to do. 

Early on in the Afghanistan second innings, the situation looked bleak. Sabir Noori was run out from a direct hit from Norman Vanua on the second ball of the second over even before he could open his account. 

Noor Ali Zadran battled hard for his 49-ball 24 and added 53 runs with Shahzad but his promising innings was cut short when Chad Soper trapped him in front in the 14th over. 

At 54 for 2, Afghanistan was in the middle of a wobble and the onus fell upon Shahzad and Shahidi, who was playing his second first-class game. While Shahzad was the aggressor, Shahidi held his own in the 150-run stand for the third wicket. 

Stroke by stroke, the Shahzad-Shahidi duo breathed life into the game and brought Afghanistan right back in it. Shahzad was his usual dynamic self as he helped the team get out of a tricky situation, reaching his century with a boundary in the 44th over.

With bowlers looking to tame Shahzad, it was a run out from Vanua that brought an end to his innings in the 48th over. The right-hand batsman fell for a 137-ball 116, a knock that had 11 fours and three sixes.

With the scorecard reading 204 for 3, the PNG bowlers were looking for some respite. Afghanistan had a lead of just 53 at that stage, but Stanikzai played some crisp strokes to keep the innings moving forward. 

Earlier in the day, the PNG lower order did well to add another 90 runs after resuming on 205 for 6. Maharu Dai, who was unbeaten on 67 at the end of day one, went on to score his maiden first-class century before he fell for a 139-ball 129. 

Looking for quick runs, Dai’s innings was brought to an end by a stunning catch at point by Shahidi off Gulbadin Naib. 

Afghanistan had drawn its first game against Scotland, while PNG had beaten Netherlands by five wickets. PNG are currently fifth on the eight-team points table, while Afghanistan are seventh.

To see the full scorecard of this game, please click here. 

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