After Afghanistan elected to bat first in the second ODI in Hambantota, Rahmanullah Gurbaz struck the highest score by a wicketkeeper against Pakistan to headline a resurgent performance.

There were batting records galore at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium in Hambantota, Sri Lanka, as the Afghanistan opening duo comprising Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran stitched a 227-run partnership. Defying an all-round attack with the likes of Shaheen Afridi, Naseem Shah, Haris Rauf and Shadab Khan in its ranks, the batting team powered their way to a first-innings score of 300-5. Given Afghanistan had been bowled out for 59 in the first ODI, it marked quite the turnaround.

The run-fest also marked the second 200-plus partnership for the duo this year, becoming only the eighth pair to do so in the same year. A month back, they piled up a 256-run opening stand against Bangladesh. The other pairs to achieve this are Rahul Dravid-Sourav Ganguly (1999), Dravid-Sachin Tendulkar (1999), Sanath Jayasuriya-Upul Tharanga (2006), Tilakratne DIlshan-Upul Tharanga (2011), Hashim Amla-Rilee Russouw (2015), Niroshan Dickwella-Danushka Gunathilaka (2017) and Virat Kohli-Rohit Sharma (2017).

Gurbaz notched up a career-best run-a-ball 151, slapping 14 boundaries and three maximums. He eclipsed former India captain MS Dhoni’s 148(123), which came in 2005 in a winning cause. Until the Afghan’s blitz, Dhoni’s innings was the previous best by a gloveman versus Pakistan.

The 21-year-old brought up the fifth century of his career in the 35th over, off 123 balls, the third-fastest in terms of innings played (23). Quinton de Kock and Imam-ul-Haq achieved the landmark in 19 innings. Zadran couldn’t quite match Gurbaz in bringing up a fifth century, but his 80 gave him a proud record, with his 829 runs the most by any ODI batter after 16 innings.

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During the epic knock, Gurbaz cut loose after celebrating his century. He smashed the wreaker-in-chief of the last match, Haris Rauf, for four consecutive boundaries in the 37th over. When dismissed in the 45th over by Afridi, his innings grabbed the second spot on the list of highest ODI scores by Afghanistan players. Zadran tops it for his 162 against Sri Lanka in 2022.

At one point in time, it looked like Afghanistan would post a daunting target of over 300, given the number of wickets that were in hand. Pakistan were able to put breaks on their rival’s innings with an inspired death-bowling performance that conceded only 73 runs in the last 10 overs, claiming four scalps. Shah was the most economical bowler with figures 9-45-1 while Afridi checked with two scalps in his wicket column, giving away 58 runs off 10 overs. ‘Player of the match’ in the first ODI, Rauf, went wicketless, leaking 48 runs off his seven overs.