Shahzad became owner of an interesting record on the last day of Desert T20 © AFP (File Photo)
Shahzad became owner of an interesting record on the last day of Desert T20 © AFP (File Photo)

There is no stopping Mohammad Shahzad these days. Given the schedule, Afghanistan had to play two matches on the final day of Desert T20 2017. Oman had set Afghanistan a challenging 150 in the first semi-final, but Shahzad made small task of it. Wielding his bat like a sledgehammer in the way he always does, Shahzad biffed his way to a 60-ball 80 with 4 fours and 3 sixes, while Nawroz Mangal and captain Asghar Stanikzai played useful cameos. Afghanistan, never under pressure, won comfortably by 8 wickets with 9 balls to spare, and Shahzad was named Man-of-the-Match.

Ireland did not have sweat to brush Scotland aside in the second semi-final, but Afghanistan turned out to be too strong for them in the final the same evening. Only two men reached double-figures as they were skittled out for 71 in 13.2 overs, Mohammad Nabi taking a career-best 4 for 10. Then Shahzad walked out again, slamming a 40-ball 52 (9 fours, 1 six) and finishing the match in a mere 7.5 balls; Mangal, leading what is probably his last international match, remained unbeaten at the other end as Afghanistan romped home by 10 wickets. It was as emphatic as any tournament final win has been.

While it was a spectacular performance by Afghanistan, what went unnoticed was the fact that Shahzad became the first cricketer to score fifties in two separate international matches on the same day. Batsmen have scored fifties in each innings of a Test (after following-on) on the same day, but Shahzad was the first to achieve this in separate international matches.

Shahzad also rose rapidly in the all-time batting chart in T20Is today. Starting the day on 1,524 runs, Shahzad raced past Shoaib Malik (1,548), Mohammad Hafeez (1,614), and JP Duminy (1,654), and is a single run behind Virat Kohli (1,657). Apart from Kohli, the only ones ahead of Shahzad are Brendon McCullum (2,140), Tillakaratne Dilshan (1,806), Martin Guptill (1,806), Umar Akmal (1,690), and David Warner (1,686). McCullum and Dilshan are, of course, not active in international cricket anymore.