Hashmatullah Shahidi was batting on 24 when he took his eye off a 144 kmph delivery by England quick Mark Wood. It struck the side of his helmet and the Afghanistan batsman hit the turf. The team doctors and the England cricketers ran towards him, advising him to return to the pavilion.

But the 24-year-old refused to leave and went on to play a classy knock of 76 wearing a new helmet. Though, Afghanistan lost to England by 150 runs in its World Cup fixture at the Old Trafford on Tuesday, Shahidi was showered with praise for his commitment.

But what made the batsman endure the pain and continue playing?

“I got up early because of my mum," Shahidi said with a smile.

"I lost my father last year. So, I didn't want her to hurt. My whole family was watching, even my big brother was here in the ground watching the match. I didn't want them to be worried for me," Shahidi added.

A few days earlier, his team-mate, Rashid Khan, too was hit on the helmet during a game against New Zealand, which forced him to sit out the game.

Afghanistan captain, Gulbadin Naib, insisted that Shahidi did it for the ‘sake of the nation’. “He did not want to leave the team and walk out. For all of us, our nation come first,” Naib told this publication.

But with such an intense injury, how challenging was it to bounce back into the game? “The ICC doctors came to me, and our physios, and my helmet was broken in the middle. They just told me just, 'let's go'. I told them I can't leave my team-mate at that moment. My team needed me. I carried on,” Shahidi recollected.

After the match, Shahidi went to the ICC doctor and talked to them. “They took care of me and said it will be fine, Inshallah (god willing)."


Despite the injury to his head, Shahidi went on to score a gutsy knock of 76. PHOTO: AFP


Even though he earned praises for his dedication, Shahidi admitted that it was challenging to face the England bowlers. “England has one of the best bowling attacks in the tournament. Mark Wood, Jofra Archer were too quick for me. It was a tough time for me, but it was a great experience…,” the young gun, who has amassed 165 runs in five so far, said. “They were consistently bowling at 140-150. It is a learning experience and hopefully, will help in the future to play well in quick and bouncy pitches.”

Coming into the tournament with lot of hopes, Afghanistan has had a nightmarish outing so far -- losing all five of its games -- but Shahidi is happy to see top-order batsmen returning to form. “England plays good at home. I can say, they had set a big target, but our batting is improving and we aim to work on our mistakes ahead of the next match against India,” he said.

“Despite good starts, we are not being able to build partnerships in the middle and that has hurt us. But now, Rahmat (Shah) and Asghar (Afghan) are returning to form and that’s a good sign,” the youngster says, hoping to put up a better show against India, when they meet in Southampton on Saturday.