Source | thenational Nov 19, 2019
Achieving anything lasting and memorable in a format that is designed unapologetically for short-term entertainment can be tricky.
T10 cricket is so disposable it is easy to forget what just happened in the game just gone, or lose track of which players play for which teams.
Even the players struggle. “Sorry, I’ve forgotten my team’s name,” Mohammad Shahzad said during his press conference after playing a match-winning innings of 57 that helped Deccan Gladiators beat Qalandars by 24 runs on Tuesday afternoon.
And yet there is one slice of history that is clearly driving many of the batsmen in the Abu Dhabi T10. They are in a race to become the first player to register a century in the competition.
Whether it dominates their thoughts might be stretching the point. But the fact it even figures in their mind is a testament to the remarkable feats of scoring that can be achieved by modern-day power-hitters.
Chris Lynn said he was miffed to miss out when he was left unbeaten nine runs short when playing for Maratha Arabians on Monday night.
A day later, Shahzad still had three overs to play when he was dismissed for 57 from 21 balls against Qalandars.
Last year, the Afghan wicketkeeper had played the innings that revised what was thought possible for batsmen.
Back then, he made 74 not out from 16 balls in a match in Sharjah, only being deprived a likely ton by the fact his side had achieved victory with six overs still to play.
“Of course it is doable,” Shahzad said of the prospect of someone scoring a T10 ton.
“Chris Lynn’s batting was very good, and last year I faced 16 balls and scored 74 runs.
“We will try to make a hundred in T10. There are a lot of players who could make this happen, and I hope in this tournament we will see it. I will try. Last year I was trying my best to do it, too.”
Given he has been one of the most consistently destructive players in the format’s two-and-a-half season history, what is his strategy? Not to have one, he says.
“In T10, there is no plan – you try to hit every ball,” Shahzad said.
“Some people say it is very difficult to set a field for me. I hit everywhere, I’m looking for the small boundaries, and trying to hit with the wind.
“Some people say to me when we are on the ground as well, ‘It is very difficult to bowl to you’.
“But this is T10. Nobody knows what is going to happen next. We are ready for every ball and try to hit every ball to the boundary.”
Against Qalandars, he did profit from a large slice of luck. He hit the first ball of the match for six of his Afghan compatriot Mujeeb Ur Rahman, but was spared a ball later when Sultan Ahmed dropped a skier off his bat.
The match was as good as over from that point on, as Shahzad razed the Qalandars attack.
He and Shane Watson put on 60 for the first wicket, before they were parted two balls into the fifth over.
Shahzad’s pyrotechnics allowed them to post 128-4 from their 10 overs.
The Lahore-based franchise did not get close in reply, reaching 104-2 from their 10.
“Shahzad and Shane Watson batted particularly well and put us under pressure,” Dawid Malan, the Qalandars captain, said.
“Maybe that got us away from the plans we had initially. It is something we can work on for the next game.
“It is tough. If you bowl it outside off stump he hits you for four or six on the offside, if you bowl straight he hits you legside. If you bowl full he hits you straight, so it is quite tough.
“Most batsmen favour one side – either straight and offside, or straight and legside, whereas he has this ability to hit both sides, and he plays spin exceptionally well, too.”