Rashid Khan introduced Hazratullah Zazai to Chris Gayle as ‘Afghanistan’s Gayle’
Hazratullah used to play in the day and work as a watchman in the night.
Published - Feb 28, 2019 11:45 am | Updated - Feb 28, 2019 11:46 am
Afghanistan have made fast progress as a cricketing nation and their bowlers have played a bigger role in helping them scale the heights. However, for those who still consider Afghanistan lacking a potent batting force, 20-year-old Hazratullah Zazai made an emphatic statement. The dashing opener recently hammered an unbeaten 162 against Ireland in a T20I in Dehradun, catapulting himself right to the second position in the list of the highest individual scores in the format (after 172 by Australia’s Aaron Finch).
The southpaw, who made his international debut in 2016 but has played just two ODIs and six T20Is so far, has straightaway changed the perception about him. Teammate and ace spinner Rashid Khan recently introduced Zazai to Chris Gayle telling the Caribbean that Zazai is a big fan of him and in fact, he is called “Afghanistan’s Gayle” back home, ESPNCricinfo reported.
“Meet Hazrat, he is a big fan of yours. Back home, they call him Afghanistan’s Gayle,” Rashid had said to the Universe Boss while introducing Zazai.
Zazai, who enjoys a strike rate of nearly 168, made the headlines last year during a game in the inaugural Afghanistan Premier League by hitting six sixes in an over for Kabul Zwanan against Balkh Legends in Sharjah. His favourite Gayle also was in a prime form in that game, hitting 80 off 40 balls. Zazai also equalled Gayle’s record in hitting the fastest half-century in T20, off just 12 balls.
Zazai was hitting hard since his teen
Hazratullah Zazai got a hang of playing with the cricket ball just five years ago. His hitting in tape-tennis ball cricket in Afghanistan had become legendary and then he made a gradual adjustment to the actual cricket ball. It didn’t take long for him to get used to, thanks to the determination in him. Seeing Afghanistan in the 2010 World T20, the man promised himself that he will represent his country someday.
That day has come finally and Zazai is now only one of the two centurions for his country in T20I, the other being Mohammad Shahzad. Zazai played three or four T20 matches every week on barren surfaces and cement faces and did not see a coach or academy or even a green ground till he got to play in the Under-19 team.
“At the club, we didn’t have any coaches. I just watched TV and videos and learnt and made adjustments. We just wanted to play matches,” he was quoted as saying by ESPNCricinfo.
Zazai played in the day and at night, worked as a watchman at a mobile service provider’s tower in the night. He made 10,000 Afghanis a month, 300-400 of which went into the pool for each match for his club, ‘Sulha’ (peace). There was no money to be earned by playing, even by winning. The Zazais just played for the love of the game.