Gladiators' Shahzad sizzles, eyes Afghanistan return
The 31-year-old was handed a one-year ban by the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) for violating the ACB's code of conduct.
Mohammad Shahzad is as innocent as they come or he perhaps has got a pretty dry sense of humour. Either way, he can leave a room filled with laughter. The Afghan opener waltzed in after scoring a match-winning 57 for the Deccan Gladiators against the Qalandars in the 'Super' round of the Aldar Properties Abu Dhabi T10 League on Tuesday.
And when introduced at the presser and about his knock, Shahzad replied: "I hope everyone was watching the match," in response to the quick nature of the format.
Moments later, he almost forgot the name of the franchise he represents. And that had everyone in splits.
Shahzad had earned a reprieve when he was on six and he said: "That was the turning point for me and what is the name of my team, Deccan Gladiators, it was good for us."
Nonetheless, the bulky batsman hoped that innings such as these could pave his way back to the Afghanistan team. The 31-year-old was handed a one-year ban by the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) for violating the ACB's code of conduct and he was withdrawn mid-way through the World Cup in England.
But Shahzad is confident of making a return to the set-up after a year out in the wilderness.
"It is very good for me because people are watching back home and here as well and it will help me to come back to the Afghanistan team," Shahzad said at the Zayed Cricket Stadium.
Qalandars skipper Dawid Malan said it was difficult to set a field for batsman like Shahzad. "It is tough because if you bowl it outside off-stump, he hits for a four or a six on the offside and if you bowl it straight, he hits you legside, and if you bowl too full, he hits you straight. So, he's quite tough. Usually, batsmen favour one side, either straight or leg side, or straight and offside. But he has got this ability to hit both sides when he's going and he plays spin exceptionally well," Malan explained.
And Shahzad revealed his ploy.
"Of course, some people say it is very difficult to set a field for me but you know I am hitting everywhere and I am looking for the small boundaries and target the wind area," he said.
Deccan Gladiators: 128 for 4 in 10 overs (Mohammad Shahzad 57, Shane Watson 30, Ben Cutting 21 not out, Bhanuka Rajapaksa 10 not out, George Garton 3-21) beat Qalandars: 104 for 2 in 10 overs (Dawid Malan 49 not out, Philip Salt 25 not out, Luke Ronchi 17) by 24 runs.
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