ABU DHABI: Skipper Asghar Afghan hit his maiden century to lead Afghanistan to an imposing 307-3 on the opening day of the second Test against Zimbabwe in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.
The 33-year-old right hander notched 106 not out – the highest individual score by an Afghan in a Test – off just 135 balls with 12 boundaries and two sixes after winning the toss and opting to bat on a flat pitch.
Asghar shared a record 186-run fourth wicket partnership with Hashmatullah Shahidi (86 not out at close) in the short six-Test history of Afghanistan.
The previous best fourth wicket stand was 120, also involving Asghar and Rahmat Shah that came against Bangladesh at Chattogram in 2019.
Asghar, whose previous best of 92 was in that Chattogram Test, raced to his hundred from 85 with a six, two and a brace of boundaries off fast bowler Victor Nyauchi.
Shahidi also improved his previous best of 61 against Ireland in Dehradun in 2019, having so far hit 12 boundaries.
The duo halted Zimbabwe’s charge after they removed opener Javed Ahmadi (four) in the second over of the match by Nyauchi.
Ibrahim Zadran, who scored 72 with eight boundaries, added 50 with Rahmat who was run out for 23.
Zadran and Shahidi added 65 for the third wicket before leg-spinner Ryan Burl removed Zadran to leave Zimbabwe at 121-3.
Asghar and Shahidi then frustrated the Zimbabwe attack with solid batting.
Asghar’s hundred is only the second by an Afghan batsman in six Tests following Rahmat’s 102 against Bangladesh in 2019.
Afghanistan welcomed the return of their ace leg-spinner Rashid Khan, one of five changes from the first Test, who missed the first Test defeat of 10 wickets with a hand injury.
Zimbabwe remained unchanged from the first Test which was also played in Abu Dhabi.