Hazratullah Zazai's Whirlwind Ton Seals Series For Afghanistan
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Records tumbled as Afghanistan crushed Ireland by 84 runs in the second T20I on Saturday to take an unassailable two-nil lead in the three-match series.  Paul Stirling tried his best to keep Ireland in the game but the writing was very much on the wall when Hazratullah Zazai made his way into the dressing room after smashing an unbeaten 162. By the time, Ireland finished their bowling, their bowlers must have been wishing that the earth opens up and they find a hiding place but unfortunately there was none as Afghanistan gave them a beating of lifetime.

Batting first, Afghanistan piled up 278 for 3- the highest-ever total in this format, eclipsing Australia’s 263 for 3 against Sri Lanka three years ago.  Hazratullah and Usman Ghani (73 off 48) laid the foundation for the huge total by sharing a record partnership of 236 runs. It is the highest partnership in T20Is, beating the previous best 223 set  by Aaron Finch and D’Arcy Short against Zimbabwe in 2018. Ireland tasted their first success with the ball right towards the end when Boyd Rankin accounted for Ghani. But by that time,  the damage was already done.

All Ireland needed at that time was to keep Hazratullah off the strike as he was hitting almost everything out of the park.  However, the visitors did not succeed in their attempt as Hazratullah smashed a record 16 sixes and 11 fours during his 62-ball massacre.  For Ireland, only one bowler managed to concede less than 12.

With almost 14 runs needed per over, Ireland had a mountain to climb.  However, they were unfazed by the huge target and started on a strong note.  Captain Stirling fired on all cylinder and was well supported by his opening partner Kevin O Brien as the two added 126 runs for the first wicket. Fareed Malik broke the stand in the 12th over by dismissing Brien before Rashid Khan all but sealed Ireland’s fate by dismissing Andrew Balbirnie and Lorcan Tucker in quick succession with Stirling’s dismissal sandwiched between the two. As a result, Ireland were reduced to 143 for 4 from 126 for no loss. Ireland eventually finished on 194 for 6.

Brief scores:

Afghanistan 278 for 3 ( Hazratullah Zazai 162*, Usman Ghani 73) beat Ireland 194 for 6 (Stirling 91; Rashid Khan 4-25) by 84 runs.

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