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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 21 November 2018

Afghanistan Premier League: Hazratullah Zazai hits six sixes to equal record for fastest T20 half century ... but still ends up on losing side

Batsman reached the mark in 12 balls for for Kabul Zwanan against Balkh Legends at Sharjah Cricket Stadium

Hazrathulah Zazai in action during his record-equalling half century. Satish Kumar for The National
Hazrathulah Zazai in action during his record-equalling half century. Satish Kumar for The National

Hazratullah Zazai hit six sixes in an over on his way to equalling the record for the fastest ever half-century in Twenty20 cricket.

The Afghan opener reached 50 in 12 balls for Kabul Zwanan against Balkh Legends in the Afghanistan Premier League at Sharjah Cricket Stadium.

That levelled the record held by Yuvraj Singh, who also hit six sixes in an over in an innings for India against England in the World T20 in 2007, and Chris Gayle, who did the same in Australia's Big Bash League in 2016.

Gayle had a close up view of Hazratullah’s feat, as he is playing for Balkh in the APL.

Earlier, the West Indian opener had made 80 from 48 balls. At one point, he had looked set for six sixes himself off Colin Ingram, but in the end that over went for 32.

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His hitting was overshadowed, though, by Hazratullah’s fireworks. The left-handed opener had already announced himself last week by becoming the first player in the tournament to score a century.

This time around he made 62 from 17 balls before hitting Ben Laughlin to Gulbadin Naib on the boundary, as Kabul made a rapid start to their chase of 245 to win.

The six successive sixes were hit off Abdullah Mazari, a left-arm spin bowler whose first over in the APL went for 37 as he also sent a wide.

Despite his extraordinary striking, Hazratullah ended on the losing side, as Kabul’s unlikely chase lost steam once he was dismissed. Balkh ended up winning by 21 runs.

Gayle earned the man of the match award for his 48-ball innings, which included 10 sixes, on a day that the UAE’s oldest cricket venue was defenceless against power-hitting.

His innings was only ended when he was unluckily run out after a brutal drive from Darwish Rasooli ricocheted off the bowler, Muslim Musa, who was taking evasive action, and hit the stumps at the non-striker’s end.

Gayle arrived late for this tournament as he was completing his final 50-over tournament playing for his native Jamaica in the Caribbean.

He had managed scores of 20, 20 and 12 so far, and he said he was happy to have made a more meaningful contribution this time.

“I’ve been waiting for this, it was good to be among the runs and to be a total like 244,” Gayle said.

“It was a good wicket and Dilshan [Munaweera, who made 46 from 25 balls] took the pressure off me and it was good to build a partnership with him early.

“Eventually, in the middle period, I was explosive. I had to wait my turn, then when the moment came my way I was able to execute and make it count.”

The win took Balkh further clear at the top of the APL table, but the fixture will only be remembered for Hazratullah’s achievements.

Wayne Parnell, Kabul’s South African pace-bowler, said he is glad Hazratullah has been able to show his talent on the big stage the APL affords.

“We’re really happy for him,” said Parnell, who was the pick of the Kabul attack on a day when all bowlers suffered.

“When I watched him in the first net session we had, I was impressed. I spoke to Rashid [Khan, the Kabul captain] about him, and he told me that back in the domestic scene he smashes it everywhere.

“It is nice to see him do that here, on a platform where people can see that talent. For us, it is about giving him freedom so that he can express himself.

“In T20 people you want people to do that, and Hazrat has done well so far.”