Afghanistan’s Hazratullah Zazai and Usman Ghani hold the record for the highest opening partnership in T20 International cricket. The Afghan pair scored 236 runs against Ireland in February 2019 in a match that saw their team posting 278/3, which is the highest team total in the T20Is.

The record-breaking T20I between Afghanistan and Ireland also saw Zazai hitting the second-highest individual score in Twenty20 Internationals. The opening batsman scored an unbeaten 162 off just 62 balls. His innings included a whopping 11 fours and 16 sixes as he finished with a strike rate of 261.29.

He is, in fact, one of the two batsmen to have scored in excess of 150 runs in the shortest format on the international circuit, with Australia’s Aaron Finch (twice) being the other.

Other records that were shattered were of the maximums hit by Zazai. His 16 sixes are the most any batsman has ever managed in a single T20I innings.

Such was Afghanistan’s dominance on the night that as many as three overs went for 20 runs or more. The 17th over, bowled by Kevin O'Brien, was the most expensive of the lot as he conceded 28 runs. This included four sixes from Zazai alone.

Of the 236 runs scored between Zazai and Ghani in 105 balls, 73 came off the latter’s bat while Zazai contributed with 145 runs off a mere 57 deliveries. In response, Ireland, too, made a positive start, with their openers scoring 126 runs for the first wicket.

The floodgates, however, were opened once the first wicket fell as Ireland fell 84 runs short.

When Aaron Finch wreaked havoc

Nearly a year before Afghanistan played a record-breaking T20I, Australia captain Aaron Finch shattered all sorts of records. Up against Zimbabwe during the 2018 tr-series, the opening batsman scored 172 runs off 76 balls while playing a 223-run stand with D’Arcy Short which is now the second-highest opening partnership in T20I.

Of the 223 runs scored between the two, a whopping 168 (74) came off Finch’s bat alone while Short scored 46.

Riding on his return, Australia posted 229/2 and won the match by 100 runs as Zimbabwe were restricted to 129/9.

Meanwhile, Czech Republic’s Sabawoon Davizi and Dylan Steyn sit third in the list for highest opening wicket partnership in the shortest format. The duo combined for 220 runs against Bulgaria during the 2022 Valetta Cup.

Partners Team Runs Opponent Date
Hazratullah Zazai and Usman Ghani Afghanistan 236 Ireland February 23, 2019
Aaron Finch and D'Arcy Short Australia 223 Zimbabwe July 3, 2018
Sabawoon Davizi and Dylan Steyn Czech Republic 220 Bulgaria May 12, 2022
Balaji Pai and Louis Bruce Gibraltar 213* Bulgaria May 13, 2022
George Munsey and Kyle Coetzer Scotland 200 Netherlands September 16, 2019

Featured photo: AFP / Munir Uz Zaman