Mohammad Shahzad earns nasty send-off, delivers own post-match sledge to Dale Steyn
If there has been one undisputed champion of hearts in the ongoing World T20, it has to be Afghanistan’s wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Shahzad. The 24-year-old was in prime form against South Africa on Sunday, both on the field and in the post-match conference.
During his 19-ball 44, Shahzad made it seem that the impossible could very easily be scripted at the Wankhede – Afghanistan were in prime position to chase down South Africa’s score of 209, to keep their hopes of qualifying for the semis alive and to end South Africa’s. Shahzad departed with the score at 52/1 in the fourth over, and the underdogs were bundled up for 172 in 20 overs. However, Shahzad had saved up his deadliest barb for after the match, responding to questions at the press conference.
Shahzad’s fireworks put fear into Proteas hearts as the Afghan score raced to 47 for no loss after 3 overs, and it was Chris Morris who turned out to be their saviour. Morris, as intimidated by the stocky Afghan as the rest of his team, banged the first ball to Shahzad in too short and it was called a wide. Shahzad reached out for the second delivery but could not make contact with the ball.
The last ball of the over was a piece of art from Morris, angled into Shahzad’s stumps at 149 kph and straightening at the end, clattering Shahzad’s stumps. Morris was so ecstatic at the breakthrough, however, that he made a gesture which has appeared wrong to a lot of people, as seen in the social media.
He pointed his finger to the dressing room, and with a few words, presumably impolite in nature, sent the departing batsman on his way. Shahzad’s partner Noor Ali Zadran was seen having a short exchange with Shahzad, and was then furious with Morris. South Africa’s captain Faf du Plessis was seen putting a hand on Morris’ shoulder to calm him down, to diffuse the tension of the situation.
Nice of Morris to give Shahzad a sendoff.Bloke from war-torn nation batting with exuberance & skill deserved it!Is Morris an Aussie? #AFGvSA— Paul Dennett (@the_summer_game) March 20, 2016
Morris should be given a 1 match ban for that send off to Shahzad. Finger pointing and verbal abuse shouldn't be tolerated #AFGvSA— Gav_Joshi_Aus (@Gampa_cricket) March 20, 2016
Steyn is not dangerous: Shahzad
However, at the press conference, Shahzad had only good things to say of Morris, but had a barb for Dale Steyn, who was surprisingly left out of the playing XI on Sunday. Asked whether he was happy that he did not have to face Steyn, Shahzad replied that his team’s chances of a win would have increased had Steyn been playing.
He said, “Morris is very dangerous because he has height and swings the ball. Dale Steyn only pace. This wicket is good to face pacers on. The ball comes well on to the bat.”
Putting the reporters gathered at the conference into splits, Shahzad said with a smile, “ I’m not happy Steyn did not play today. I would have loved to play Dale Steyn because Dale Steyn is not dangerous”
Shahzad has often been called Afghanistan’s own MSD because of his similarities with the Indian captain, and this is a point the entertainer is keen to emphasise as well.
"I play my own game because I am waiting for the loose delivery, when I find a loose delivery, whether it is the first ball or last ball of the match, a four-day game, Test match game, I don't care. I just play my own game, like MS Dhoni, you know."
Cricket fans cannot have enough of Shahzad at the moment because like the greatest entertainers who have graced the sport, he makes the crowd sit up and applaud whatever he does – whether it is his aerial celebrations, his blistering shots, the stare that he gave a Hong Kong batsman before stumping him out, or humbly sledging a legend of the game at a press conference.