During Afghanistan’s 2nd ODI clash against Pakistan in Hambantota, wicket-keeper Rahmanullah Gurbaz produced a brilliant performance as he smashed 151 off as many deliveries. Gurbaz’s impressive performance propelled Afghanistan to a formidable total of 300/5, which also marked Afghanistan’s highest against Pakistan in the format. The youngster smashed 14 fours and three sixes and partnering with fellow opener Ibrahim Zadran (80), forged a commanding stand of 227 runs. This was also Afghanistan’s second-highest partnership for any wicket in their ODI history.
The knock was special because Afghanistan came on the back of an embarrassing collapse in the previous ODI – where they were bowled out for merely 59. A composed knock of 29 runs off 29 balls from Mohammed Nabi ensured that Afghanistan reached the 300-run mark, ensuring a strong finish to the innings.
With his 150, Gurbaz entered the record books for a series of feats for an Afghanistan player in the ODI format. Firstly, this was the first time when a batter from the country breached triple figures against Pakistan in the format; the previous highest individual score was an unbeaten 97 from Hashmatullah Shahidi.
Gurbaz also surpassed Babar Azam to become the third-fastest to reach five ODI centuries; while the Pakistan captain achieved this milestone in 25 innings, Gurbaz accomplished the same in just 23. Babar’s fellow countryman Imam-ul-Haq and South Africa’s Quinton de Kock hold the joint-record for fastest to five ODI tons, both achieving the mark in 19 innings.
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No other wicketkeeper-batter had been successful in breaching the 150-run mark against Pakistan. The closest was Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who had scored 148 against the side during a bilateral match in Visakhapatnam in 2005.
In fact, Gurbaz became the only sixth batter in the history of the game to breach the 150-run mark against Pakistan. While Virat Kohli (183) holds the record for the highest score against the side, Australia’s David Warner (179) and Aaron Finch (153), Alex Hales (171) of England, and West Indies’ former skipper Brian Lara (156) are the only ones to achieve the milestone.
Gurbaz returning to run-scoring is a positive sign for Afghanistan as they prepare for the upcoming Asia Cup. The side is in the ‘group of death’ in the tournament, with Sri Lanka and Bangladesh being the other two teams in the group. Interestingly, Afghanistan had the same teams in the previous year’s Asia Cup as well, and had defeated both to finish top. The previous edition, however, was played in T20 format.