Khushdil and Khurram reflect on their blazing centuries
The high quality cricket action in the ongoing National T20 Cup continues to enthral the fans as the high scoring match between Southern Punjab and Sindh at the Pindi Cricket Stadium on Friday, the opening day of the second-leg of the tournament, saw record-books rewritten.
As many as 433 runs were scored on the back of 21 sixes and 40 fours in a contest in which the record for the fastest T20 century by a Pakistan batsman was made in the second highest successful run-chase ever in the history of the National T20 Cup.
Over the course of the match, the fans were treated with some exceptional power-hitting.
That Sindh posted a daunting 216 for three was because of a blazing 58-ball 108 by Khurram Manzoor, who embellished the first innings of the match with his six sixes and 10 fours.
Southern Punjab, in search of change of fortunes hoped for an extraordinary batting display from their batsmen, as they headed towards what would have been their fifth defeat in as many matches.
They were saved by Khushdil Shah, whose spectacular 36-ball 100 provided Southern Punjab a most unexpected victory considering their state in the match.
The 25-year-old smoked nine sixes and eight fours to register his first triple-digit score in just 35 balls and set a record for the fastest century in the format by a Pakistan batsman, which was previously held by Ahmed Shehzad, who had scored a century from 40 balls in a Bangladesh Premier League match in 2012.
Khushdil, who made his Pakistan debut in last November at Perth in a T20I against Australia, said: “This knock has provided me a lot of confidence and my aim is to build on this innings. I am a natural power-hitter and the experience of spending time with men’s national team in England helped me to learn a lot more about batting. The coaches worked a great deal on me and I used to stay in ground with them from sunrise to sunset.”
Khushdil arrived at the crease with his side struggling at three for 32 in five overs, but that did not deter the Bannu-born from expressing himself. He started to deal in boundaries from the third ball he faced as he dispatched Mir Hamza for back-to-back fours.
“My favourite shots are the ones which bring me my first boundaries in an innings as they provide me confidence to build an innings,” he said. “I try to learn from the best in business and adopt their practice routines. I used to watch David Miller and then I saw Eoin Morgan in England on how he constructs his innings.”
Khurram is amongst the many admirers Khushdil has earned.
“It was a wonderful innings,” Khurram said. “I have very rarely seen such innings. Shahid Afridi had scored a century off 37 balls. I saw Khushdil’s innings unfold in front of my eyes at the ground yesterday. He turned the match around on his own and changed the game completely.”
After 16 matches of the National T20 Cup for First XIs, the 34-year-old Khurram leads the batting charts with 253 runs at an average of 50.60. He has a century and two half-centuries from five innings in the tournament and is the leading run-getter in the National T20 Cup history.
Reflecting on what was his fourth T20 century, Khurram said: “We had lost the toss and were asked to bat. With the teams able to chase big scores, my plan was to score as much runs as possible for my team by putting up a strong partnership with Asad Shafiq, who provided a great support. With the moisture in the pitch, there were some problems early on. I stuck with what I have learned throughout my career which is, attack is the best defence. I enjoy paddle sweeping the fast bowlers as it is a difficult shot to execute. But, I enjoy that challenge.”
Sindh and Southern Punjab currently sit at fifth and sixth positions on the points table as both have two points each. Khurram is hopeful that unlike last year, Sindh will be able to secure a semi-final berth in this edition.
“I am hopeful that we will progress to the semi-finals as we still have five matches. We need to play good quality cricket and field well.”