A sensational, record-breaking display of hitting from Hazratullah Zazai powered Afghanistan to a series-sealing 84-run victory over Ireland in the second T20I in Dehradun, India.
The 20-year-old left-handed opener hit 162* from 62 balls – the second-highest T20I score after Aaron Finch's 172 against Zimbabwe last year – and blasted 16 sixes in the process, a new record for the format.
Zazai's knock propelled Afghanistan to 278/3, the highest-ever total in T20Is, while he and Usman Ghani (73 from 48) shared a record partnership for the format of 236. It was an incredible effort from the youngster, playing in just his fifth T20I, who appeared to be able to clear the ropes at will.
278/3 - Highest T20I total— ICC (@ICC) February 23, 2019
236 - Highest T20I partnership
16 - Most sixes in an individual T20I innings
162* - Second-highest T20I score
42 balls - Third-fastest men's T20I ton
Just a few records broken by Afghanistan today!#AFGvIRE LIVE 👇https://t.co/7szofdyWOt pic.twitter.com/46MW2RXTky
He benefitted from two costly missed chances in the field, George Dockrell dropping him in the deep when he was on 72 and Simi Singh spilling a chance to dismiss him on 113 – Shane Getkate the unfortunate bowler on both occasions.
When Ireland finally made the breakthrough in the 18th over the wicket deservedly fell to Boyd Rankin, who returned the excellent figures of 1/35 on a batsman's paradise of a a wicket, with Ghani caught at long-on by Josh Little. Zazai ploughed on though, finishing unbeaten as Afghanistan rewrote the record books.
Ireland had no choice but to come out all guns blazing and Paul Stirling dispatched the very first delivery of their reply for six before dominating an excellent opening stand of 126 with Kevin O'Brien which, for a time, kept them up with the required run rate. Their stand was a new record for Ireland for any wicket, as the records continued to tumble.
However, the fall of O'Brien (37 from 25), caught at deep cover off a Fareed Ahmad full toss, and the introduction of Rashid Khan effectively ended the contest.
Rashid, who had O'Brien dropped off his first delivery, cleaned up Andrew Balbirnie in his second over and when Stirling was caught off Mujeeb Ur Rahman, nine short of what would have been his first T20I century, the Afghans turned the screw.
Nonetheless, Stirling's innings of 91 from 50 balls was worthy of high praise, as he combined power and timing to register Ireland's highest-ever individual score in the format.
With the required rate rocketing, Rashid was in his element, dismissing Lorcan Tucker and Dockrell in his third over and Getkate (24 from 16 balls) in his fourth to finish with figures of 4/25. The leg-spinner has now taken 24 wickets at an average of 7.58 in T20Is against Ireland.
Singh (17*) and Stuart Poynter (15*) each played enterprising cameos but Afghanistan ran out comfortable winners, Ireland finishing on 194/6.
Ireland now just have pride to play for when the two sides meet again in the final match of the series on Sunday 24 February.
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