ODI World Cup: Afghanistan score 291/5 against Australia riding on Zadran’s historic ton

Afghanistan won the toss and opted to bat first

ICC ODI WC: Afghanistan vs Australia ICC Cricket World Cup: Afghanistan's Rashid Khan and Ibrahim Zadran | Reuters

Buoyed by Sachin Tendulkar's encouraging words on pre-match eve, 21-year-old Ibrahim Zadran etched his name in Afghanistan's cricket history, scoring country's first ever World Cup hundred that propelled them to a healthy 291 for 5 against Australia here on Tuesday.

Zadran anchored the innings with an unbeaten 129 off 143 balls as Afghanistan scored 64 in last five overs against five-time champions in a do-or-die game as far as their maiden semi-final appearance is concerned.

The 21-year-old Zadran who made his ODI debut just four years ago, produced a terrific knock here at the Wankhede Stadium in a key World Cup clash to record his fifth ton in only 26 ODIs.

He also has five fifties to his credit as he also became the first batter from his nation to score a ton against Australia.

Vindicating his captain's call at the toss to bat first totally, Zadran's unhurried knock showcased his high-class temperament, fitness as well as calibre as he batted for the entirety of the Afghanistan innings, taking them to a fighting total on a batting-friendly pitch.

Zadran faced 143 balls and cracked eight fours and three sixes to make the highest score for any Afghanistan batter in World Cup tournaments since their maiden appearance two editions ago, surpassing Samiullah Shinwari's 96 against Scotland at Dunedin in the 2015 World Cup.

"I had a good chat with Sachin Tendulkar yesterday, he shared a lot of his experiences that I can't express. I'm very thankful to him for sharing his experiences and giving me a lot of confidence," Zadran said at the break.

With Australia pacers not finding any assistance off the surface or in the air right from the beginning, Afghanistan's approach was largely conservative but there were some sparks of brilliance too.

Azmatullah Omarzai smacked two sixes and a four to make an 18-ball 22 to provide Afghanistan with much-needed impetus in the middle overs. He was dismissed by Adam Zampa (1/58) who now has 20 wickets in the World Cup so far.

Towards the end, Rashid Khan, who perhaps did not bowl at all during the lead-up to this contest, hammered a quickfire 35 not out off 18 balls (2x4s, 3x6s).

But the star of the innings undoubtedly was the young Zadran, who gave a fine example of his talent at the biggest stage by shepherding the rest of the Afghanistan batters who appeared to be batting around him.

The first breakthrough came at the end of the eighth over when Rahmanullah Gurbaz (21) lazily pulled a short ball from Josh Hazlewood (2/39) to Mitchell Starc stationed at deep backward square leg, having put on 38 for the first wicket.

But an 83-run stand from 100 balls for the second wicket between Rahmat Shah (30) and Zadran consolidated Afghanistan's position, allowing them to build a platform. While they put the bad deliveries away, both Zadran and Shah rotated the strike well.

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