back icon


Gulbadin makes strong case for permanent top-order spot with stunning blitz

article_imageMATCH STORIES
Last updated on 14 Jan 2024 | 02:45 PM
Google News IconFollow Us
Gulbadin makes strong case for permanent top-order spot with stunning blitz

In a stunning 35-ball blitz, the veteran showed why he could easily be a potential top-order option for Afghanistan going forward in T20s.

Gulbadin Naib is not used to batting up the order in T20 cricket, let alone in the powerplay. 

Prior to the second T20I against India on Sunday (January 14), 67 of Gulbadin’s 100 knocks in T20 cricket had come at No.6 or below. The last time he’d batted in the Top 4 was back in March 2023 against Pakistan, and the last time he’d scored a run in the powerplay in T20 cricket was against Australia in Adelaide, in the T20 World Cup in 2022, where he got a rare promotion to No.4.

The right-hander was a part of Afghanistan’s XI in the first clash, but he was pushed so low down the order that he did not face a single ball despite the visitors batting out their entire quota of 20 overs and losing 5 wickets.

On Sunday (January 14) in Indore, Gulbadin was rather surprisingly promoted to No.3, and in a stunning 35-ball blitz, the veteran showed what he brings to the table and why he could easily be a potential top-order option for Afghanistan going forward, in T20s. 

Afghanistan lost the first T20I in Mohali in the powerplay due to lack of intent and lacklustre batting (33/0 in 6 overs). They made a much better start with the bat today, with Rahmanullah Gurbaz getting a few early hits away. However, once Gurbaz departed on the second ball of the third over, their innings once again threatened to go off the rails. 

Skipper Ibrahim Zadran 5 (6) was struggling for rhythm again, and India were threatening to take control of the powerplay — and, in turn, the game — having conceded just 8 runs in a 15-ball stretch.

With Rahmat Shah dropped, not many expected anything noteworthy from Gulbadin, who entered the contest with a career T20I strike rate of 119.89, but the powerful right-hander put on a show, playing by some distance the best knock of his 12-year-long T20I career.

Gulbadin signalled his intent very early, smashing Mukesh Kumar for consecutive boundaries on the fourth and fifth ball he faced, but what really left the crowd — and the opposition — stunned was his onslaught against the leggie, Ravi Bishnoi

Bishnoi had bowled the perfect first over (1-0-2-1) in which he’d gotten rid of the danger man Gurbaz, and it felt like there was almost a sense of inevitability about the leggie running through the visitors after a tough first outing (0/35 off 3).

However, in a stupendous display of audacity, Gulbadin went SIX, FOUR, FOUR against the 23-year-old to silence the crowd, giving a voice to Afghanistan’s innings. On a small ground like the Holkar, it is imperative that you dispatch any bad delivery, and that is exactly what Gulbadin did, taking 10 runs off the consecutive half-trackers the youngster bowled.

Five of Gulbadin’s six boundaries in the powerplay were fours, with the 32-year-old preferring to pierce the gaps during the field restrictions. 

However, once the restrictions were lifted, he decided to flex his muscles and showcase his brute power. 

Gulbadin hit three boundaries post the powerplay, all of which were MAXIMUMS! Two of them came in Shivam Dube’s over, with the right-hander moving across his stumps and slogging the medium pacer wide of long-on, backing his own strength over Dube’s skills.

He brought up his fifty in the 10th over — only the second of his 12-year-long T20I career — and then went BANG again, this time off Washington Sundar.

With nine overs left in the innings, Gulbadin actually looked well set to go all the way and get a ton but eventually got foxed by the in-form man, Axar Patel.

This blitz from Gulbadin might not mean a lot in terms of this series but could actually prove significant for Afghanistan if a need arises to look at the veteran as a permanent option at the top of the order.

With Zadran struggling big time with his strike rate and with Afghanistan anyway not having someone locked in at No.3, Gulbadin could be an ideal candidate for a top-order slot. By using him up the order, not only will Afghanistan get more out of his batting, but it will also enable them to balance the team better, with his skillset to chip in with the ball as well.

Related Article