Opener Ibrahim Zadran credited Indian batting legend Sachin Tendulkar with giving him a lot of energy and confidence to go on and score the maiden century for Afghanistan in the World Cups as he helped his team post a competitive 291/5 against Australia in the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023 match on Tuesday.
Zadran became the first Afghanistan batter and at 21 years and 330 days, the fourth-youngest batter to score a century in the men's ODI World Cup, helping Afghanistan score their highest score in World Cups.
Afghanistan have caused a huge sensation in World Cup 2023 by beating defending champions England, Pakistan and Sri Lanka along with the Netherlands and need to beat Australia and South Africa to reach the semifinals.
On Tuesday, Zadran thanked Tendulkar for inspiring him to score a century at the home ground of the Indian batting legend. Tendulkar had visited the Afghanistan squad ahead of the match against Australia and interacted with the players.
"I had a good chat with Sachin Tendulkar; he shared his experience and I said before the match that I will bat like Sachin Tendulkar; he gave me a lot of energy and confidence," Zadran told the broadcaster during the innings break after he carried his bat through for a 143-ball unbeaten 129.
The opening batter was elated to score Afghanistan's highest score in the World Cups after missing the mark while compiling 87 against Pakistan earlier in the tournament.
"I am feeling great to score Afghanistan's maiden hundred in (World Cup). I worked really hard for this tournament, I missed a hundred against Pakistan but made it today," said Zadran.
The 21-year-old said he had a feeling that he would get the three-figure mark in this World Cup after missing it against Pakistan at Chennai a couple of weeks back.
"I was talking to my coaching staff and I told them I have a feeling I will get a hundred in the next three matches," he said.
Zadran, however, felt that Afghanistan could have crossed the 300-run mark if they had not lost a couple of quick wickets in the middle overs. We could have scored 330, he said.
"The wicket is looking good, ball is coming so well. If we had made good partnerships and kept wickets in hand, we would have scored 330 but we lost a few wickets and didn't get the kind of partnership (we were looking for) but Rashid played well in the end," he said.
It looked like they had planned to go after the bowling in the slog overs. Afghanistan scored 96 runs in the last 10 overs.
Afghanistan hammered 75 runs in the last six overs as Zadran and Rashid Khan went after the bowling. Rashid smashed Maxwell for 16 in the 47th while Zadran hammered Pat Cummins for a six and four off successive balls in the 49th over as Afghanistan went big. In between, Rashid Khan survived a chance when Marcus Stoinis nearly caught him off Mitchell Starc in the 48th over but the third umpire judged that the ball had bounced before being caught.
"We have a plan for every opposition and it was our aim to put this score. We will try to bowl and field well," said Zadran.