Afghanistan wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Shahzad has said that even though his team performed brilliantly on the day against India, he isn't satisfied ending with a tie after "having slogged for six hours at the ground" in the heat and humidity, which is such a big factor in United Arab Emirates.
Afghanistan, which came just as close to sealing wins over Pakistan and Bangladesh earlier, gave the Mahendra Singh Dhoni led(on the day) Indian side a huge scare as they almost clinched a victory over the more fancied opponent in their last Super 4s Asia Cup 2018 game on Tuesday, September 25.
Mohammed Shehzad simply bamboozled the inexperienced fast bowling attack of Khaleel Ahmed, Deepak Chahar and Siddharth Kaul before scoring his first major International hundred in a knock of 124 off 116 balls.
Even though Ravindra Jadeja (3/46) and Kuldeep Yadav (2/28) ensured India restrict the opponent to a generally manageable 252-10, it was still going to be a tough run-chase against Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Mohammed Nabi - world's best limited overs spin attack.
However, India got off to a very good start with openers KL Rahul and Ambati Rayudu scoring 60 and 57 respectively before the team suffered a middle-order stutter and lost wickets at regular intervals, with only Dinesh Karthik(44) doing something substantial.
This is where Ravindra Jadeja took the game as deep as possible with his matured 25 but with only 1 wicket in hand and 8 runs required off the final over against Rashid Khan, he had to play a big shot at some stage. To Jadeja's credit, he played that shot for a boundary and managed to take it 1 off 2 balls, but then, he saw a short incoming ball from Rashid and played it with the spin over the infield only to see it being mistimed straight to the mid-wicket - the only fielder that was placed outside the 30-yard circle on the leg-side.
Afghanistan's amazing story saw another golden chapter being written with a tie against world's cricket's biggest brand, India.
For his outstanding hundred on the day, Shehzad was awarded the man of the match award and he said, "I'm not very happy, we have slogged for six hours at the ground without result, but I am happy with the performance of the team," and amusingly continued, "We have a flight tomorrow, so I thought of playing my game freely. I am feeling proud, because I have played an innings like this against the best side in Asia. I haven't played well throughout the tournament, but I am happy that I played well in this one,"
"I just played my natural game. We know the wicket. We have been here for the last three weeks. Even before that, we have have been coming here and we know the conditions. It is very difficult because it is too hot. After 10 overs, it is slightly okay." he added, "The coach and captain said, 'you can stay in the wicket and you can play your natural game'. I just went there and played my natural game,"
Shehzad also gave an insight into how he wanted to take advantage of the flat batting conditions and put the inexperienced Indian fast bowling attack off their ways early in the game.
He said, "The wicket was too flat and I just said to myself that it will be my day. They made a couple of changes and I went after the new bowlers." before concluding, "We have world class spinners like Rashid Khan, Mujeeb and Nabi - so we don't have problem with spinners. (When asked if he'll be fit to keep wickets) Of course, I will try to do my best. I have already taken a shower."
(Inputs from India Today)