After noteworthy debuts of Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi in the recently-concluded season of the Indian Premier League (IPL), Afghanistan showed itself as a serious team with players of high potential. Their recent performances speak for themselves and reveal that the gap between them and the existing top ten teams isn’t as colossal as it used to be. The cricket there is on the rise, and they have another star to thank for a noteworthy achievement by a batsman and create a new buzz.
Shafiqullah Shafaq, a wicketkeeper-batsman, butchered the opposition attack in a domestic T20 match to score 214 runs of just 71 balls, according to a report on NDTV Sports. The noteworthy innings took place in the Paragon Nangarhar Champions Trophy, a local tournament, with 27-year-old Shafaq recording a mind-boggling strike rate of 304, having smashed 21 sixes and 16 boundaries.
His heroic achievements, with teammate Waheedullah Shafaq helping him out with a 31-ball 81, enabled his team Khateez Cricket Academy to post a mammoth total of 351 in 20 overs against Kabul Start Cricket Club. They went on to script a comfortable win, defeating the opposition by 244 runs.
Shafaq has made a total of 35 T20I and 20 ODI appearances for his national side, making his T20I debut for Afghanistan against Ireland in 2010. A regular member of the team, he was part of Afghanistan's campaigns in the last three editions of the ICC World T20 (2012, 2014, 2016).
Be it a brilliant bowling effort or miraculous batting one, Afghanistan cricket is making the right strides in capturing the imagination of the world cricket, and maybe, just maybe, these are the sign of changing times.