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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 18 November 2018

Afghanistan Premier League: Mohammed Naveed cannot wait to take on Hazratullah Zazai again

UAE paceman watched Hazratullah hit six sixes with interest on Sunday, and is relishing challenge of facing up again to player with new-found star-status

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 will return to the crease on Tuesday night in Sharjah safe in the knowledge his place in cricket history has already been secured.

The Afghan opener made international sporting headlines on Sunday when he became just the sixth cricketer in history to hit six sixes in an over in a competitive match.

The 20-year-old left-hander hit the successive sixes off beleaguered left-arm spinner Abdullah Mazari, yet was still on the losing side for Kabul Zwanan against Balkh Legends in the Afghanistan Premier League.

He joined a list including such celebrated names as Garry Sobers, Ravi Shastri, Yuvraj Singh, and Herschelle Gibbs, as well as the lesser-known Englishman Ross Whiteley, who have achieved the feat.

His fireworks were part of a record-equalling innings that saw him go to 50 in 12 balls, which only Yuvraj and Chris Gayle have managed before in T20 cricket.

From now on, his is sure to be a prized wicket for opposition bowlers, but in this first APL, that was already the case.

Hazratullah is the only player to have posted a century in the tournament so far, and is the leading run-scorer in the competition.

Tuesday’s game will be the return fixture against one of the few sides he had failed against so far.

He made 11 when he played against Kandahar Knights last Thursday, before being clean bowled by UAE fast bowler Mohammed Naveed.

Naveed did not make the starting XI when Kandahar started their campaign, but since being given his chance he has done his best to be noticed.

Among his victims in the competition so far are each of the three leading run-scorers in the competition so far – Hazratullah, Mohammed Shahzad, and Anton Devcich.

Naveed watched Hazratullah’s heroics with interest on Sunday, and is relishing the challenge of facing up again to a player with new-found star-status.

“Hopefully I will be playing, and for Zazai, I have my own plan and hopefully I can bowl accordingly,” Naveed said. “The way he plays is similar to Chris Gayle.”

The comparison with Gayle is one that will delight Hazratullah. The young Afghan idolises the big-hitting West Indian, and was thrilled to have shared the field with him on Sunday.

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Read more:

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The fact Hazratullah’s innings was in a losing cause was in large part down to Gayle, who top-scored with 80 as Balkh posted a massive 244.

“It is a very enjoyable moment for me that my name is now linked to so many big names of the game, who are really legends of the game,” Hazratullah said.

“I want to keep enjoying my cricket always and will keep striving towards improving. It was a surreal moment for me to perform in front of my hero [Gayle].

"I was just trying to play my natural game and did not in any way think of outshining anyone.”

Kandahar will revive their hopes of reaching this weekend’s semi-finals if they beat Kabul at Sharjah Cricket Stadium.

They have won just one of their five matches so far, but are only two points behind fourth-placed Nagarhar Leopards.