Hazratullah Zazai century
Hazratullah Zazai (Credit: Afghanistan Cricket Board)

Opener Hazratullah Zazai created history, recording the maiden century of the inaugural Afghanistan Premier League (APL), as his blistering knock powered Kabul Zwanan to a seven-wicket win over Nangarhar Leopards at the Cricket Association Stadium in Sharjah on Tuesday.

In the chase of 189, opener Zazai blasted 55-ball 124 with Kabul made 191/3, overhauling the target in 17.5 overs for their second win of the T20 league in a high-scoring affair.

The 20-year-old Zazai hit the top-gear from the first over itself, bowled by Mujeeb-ur-Rehman, welcoming the spinner with a four and six to make it 18 runs from it. Left-arm pacer Mitchell McClenaghan took full brunt of his assault as his first four deliveries of the night resulted in 18 runs – three fours and a six.

Zazai sprinted took 17 deliveries for his half-century as Mujeeb was taken off after being creamed for 39 from his first two overs. Thanks to the left-hander’s blazing start, Kabul made 97/0 in the Powerplay.

Be it spin or pace, Zazai was in some mood. He reached his maiden T20 century with a four off McClenaghan. Watching Zazai in destructive mood, his opening partner Luke Ronchi took a back before falling for 26 off 24. The opening stand was worth 144 and all but sealed Kabul’s victory.

It was Nangarhar captain Ben Cutting who put an end to Zazai’s free-flowing innings, having him caught for 124 but not before he had belted 12 fours and nine sixes.

Earlier, Anton Devcich’s unbeaten 98 powered Nangarhar to a challenging total after being put in to bat by Rashid Khan. They scored 50/0 in the Powerplay and at the halfway stage had raced to 106/0. Devcich brought up his fifty off 32 deliveries but Najeeb Tarakai fell for 42 off 38 with Shahidullah Kamal ending the opeing stand on 109.

However, the blow slowed Nangarhar’s pace to a bit with Rashid at his usual best delivering four overs for just 13 runs and the big scalp of Andre Russell, making his APL debut, for a four-ball duck. Devcich took them forward with seven fours and six sixes while receiving handy support from Cutting (18 off 12).

Brief Scores: Kabul Zwanan 191/3 (Hazratullah Zazai 124; Zahir Khan 1/20) beat Nangarhar Leopards 188/5 (Anton Devcich 94*; Rashid Khan 1/13) by seven wickets