Afghanistan's exciting run at the 2023 World Cup came to an end with a five-wicket defeat at the hands of South Africa at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on Friday, November 10.
Having posted 244 in their 50 overs upon opting to bat first, Afghanistan were already sent crashing out before their defense began. For the uninitiated, they had to win by a humongous margin in excess of 438 runs to pip New Zealand on net run-rate before hoping for England to keep Pakistan's net run-rate at bay on Saturday.
They gave it everything with the ball, however, and fought hard before an unbeaten partnership of 65 between Rassie van der Dussen and Andile Phehlukwayo took the South Africans home.
Afghanistan had plenty of moments to savor at the 2023 World Cup having finished with four wins from nine attempts and securing a spot in the Champions Trophy 2025 along the way.
While their bowlers delivered along expected lines, their batters were incredibly impressive, particularly in three successful chases on the trot against Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and the Netherlands.
As their campaign comes to a close, here's a recap of the three best batting performances by an Afghan batter at the 2023 World Cup:
#3 Rahmanullah Gurbaz - 80 off 57 vs England, Delhi
Dashing wicketkeeper-batter Rahmanullah Gurbaz began the 2023 World Cup with a couple of confident starts against Bangladesh and India. He took it up by a couple of notches in Afghanistan's third outing against England at the Arun Jaitley Stadium in Delhi, tearing into the seamers from the word go.
In what was an exhilarating display of power hitting, Gurbazball was on full display as he imposed himself on the England attack. Anything too wide was duly cut or driven while the short ball was also punished over the fence.
He razed down a half-century off just 33 deliveries after Afghanistan whipped up 79 in the first 10 overs. He looked set for more before a terrible mix-up with skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi saw him run out for a 57-ball 80.
It proved to be a match-winning innings no less though as the Afghans posted 284, which was 69 runs too many for the defending champions on a tacky surface. It marked the beginning of a stunning run of form for Shahidi and company as they registered their first World Cup win over a Test-playing nation.
#2 Azmatullah Omarzai - 97* off 107 vs South Africa, Ahmedabad
When the great Sachin Tendulkar lavishes praise on you, you've got to be a serious cricketer. And Azmatullah Omarzai proved that throughout the 2023 World Cup as he enjoyed a breakout campaign across departments.
His batting, in particular, stood out with three half-centuries to his credit. The third of those came in his team's final round-robin fixture against South Africa in Ahmedabad, under difficult circumstances to boot.
Having walked in at 45/3, the score soon became 116/6 as the cream of Afghanistan's batting lineup was wiped out by the Proteas' irresistible bowling unit. Omarzai wasn't going to go down without a fight, however, as he forged fruitful partnerships with Rashid Khan and Noor Ahmad to put the innings back on track.
A strong vigil saw him notch up a half-century before he upped the tempo perfectly, clearing the straight boundaries in the V at will. He so nearly got to a century too before being denied off the last ball as he was stranded unbeaten on 97.
If not for his fluent knock embellished with shots out of the book though, Afghanistan's eventual total of 244 would have been far from reality.
#1 Ibrahim Zadran - 87 off 113 vs Pakistan, Chennai
Ibrahim Zadran may have notched up the first century by an Afghan in ODI World Cups in the game against Australia, but his knock against Pakistan was arguably even better.
The rock-solid opener was guilty of not converting his starts in the first half of the 2023 World Cup. All that was put to rest in a tall chase of 283 against Pakistan, however, as he played the ideal foil to Gurbaz's blazing 53-ball 65 at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai.
An opening stand of 130 put Afghanistan right on course to ace a historic chase before Zadran, who duly got to his half-century, had to deal with a bout of cramps as the humidity got to him. He was the glue that held the innings together and ensured that the asking rate never reached alarming proportions though, even as he nicked behind off Hasan Ali for a 113-ball 87.
Rahmat Shah and Shahidi then took over though and got the job done as Afghanistan secured their second win of the 2023 World Cup and their first ever in ODIs against Pakistan. Zadran duly bagged the Player of the Match honors though for a stellar knock that laid the foundation for a memorable win for his team.
Which of these knocks by an Afghanistan batter at the 2023 World Cup did you enjoy the most? Have your say in the comments section below!
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