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|RN ten Doeschate||78||46||7||4||169.57|
The APL got off to an exciting start and it looks like the Sharjah pitch is going to allow plenty of high scoring matches to take place. Kabul Zwanan pulled off an incredible chase of 219 in the last over thanks to some very aggressive batting. The match would have taken a lot of out of their players in the heat and playing back to back days is not going to be easy. It would have also allowed the team to learn a little bit more about its combination going forward.
Their opponents for this match are the Balkh Legends, a very strong team with some T20 superstars to make things interesting. The biggest name of them all, Chris Gayle, will also be a part of the squad but he is far from the only big name to look out for.
The Balkh Legends start their campaign off against Kabul Zwanan, who won their first match pretty convincingly in the end. The Legends would have watched the first match with a lot of interest as they try and lock down their best starting lineup.
Chris Gayle, Colin Munro, and Ben Laughlin would be in our starting eleven no matter what the conditions or the opposition. Gayle is still a force to be reckoned with in this format of the game even though he is becoming a bit less consistent than in the past. A poor CPL would not have dented the confidence of Gayle because he did get plenty of starts in that tournament as well and also because he is never ever short of confidence in the first place!
Colin Munro was a beast at the CPL and phenomenally consistent. His challenge will be to replicate that in the slow, dusty conditions that he will encounter. His record at the IPL is not that great although he also did not get an extended run to prove his worth.
Ben Laughlin is a master of the change-up and is going to be very difficult to hit in the death overs. The only real question remains over the selection of the fourth overseas player. There is Malcolm Waller, Ravi Bopara, and Ryan Ten Doeschate to opt for. Among these, we think Bopara should get the nod for his experience, his ability to play spin well, and bowl three to four overs reliably.
The Legends also have Qais Ahmad, a very exciting leg-spinner from Afghanistan, whom we have no doubt will make the national team soon enough. Aftab Alam has international experience, Usman Ghani has been a top-order for Afghanistan as well to round out the Balkg Legends side nicely.
There is room for a few young Afghanistan players to make their mark and elevate this team to another level but we expect this side to be hard to beat never the less.
Colin Munro, Usman Ghani, RS Bopara, RN ten Doeschate, Darwish Rasooli, Mohammad Nabi, Ikram Ali Khil, Gulbadin Naib, Mirwais Ashraf, Ben Laughlin, Aftab Alam.
Kabul Zwanan was pushed to the brink in the last match thanks to some magnificent batting from their opponents. The Kabul side had a decent bowling lineup on paper but a couple of the players had a horror day to leave things precarious.
Ali Khan came into this tournament with his reputation enhanced after a brilliant CPL but was taken to cleaners in this game. He gave away 53 runs in his four overs without taking a single wicket. As an overseas player, one that is keeping someone like Sohail Tanvir on the bench, that is just not good enough.
Fareed Ahmed also went for 41 runs in his three overs but as a local, inexperienced player, he can be cut some slack.
Thankfully for Kabul, Rashid Khan was his miserly self, Wayne Parnell pretty effective, and Zahir Shehzad did pretty well too. The team may want to make a few changes to get the bowling combination right because its batsmen are not going to be able to chase down scores in excess of 200 every single time.
Kabul Zwanan’s batting was built around a brilliant from Laurie Evans who smashed 79 from just 39 deliveries with 6 massive sixes. Useful contributions from Luke Ronchi, Hazratullah Zazai, Javed Ahmadi, and Rashid Khan lends hope that the Kabul team will be able to keep putting on good batting displays in the future.
This lineup, though, will be up against a much better bowling unit this time around and could find itself under a lot more pressure.
Wayne Parnell and Sohail Tanvir are both useful lower-order batsmen and both bowl left-arm medium pace as well. This similarity in their styles of cricket should not be the reason why Kabul is reluctant to pick them in the side because they are both proven quantities in T20 cricket and could well add to the balance of the team.
The Kabul side has the advantage of being familiar with the conditions they will face but how important that turns out to be in the end remains to be seen.
Hazratullah Zazai, Luke Ronchi, MJ Ahmadi, Colin Ingram, Laurie Evans, Shahidullah Kamal, Rashid Khan, Muslim Musa, WD Parnell, Farid Malik, Zahir Shirzad.
The team winning the toss is expected to field first
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The weather in Sharjah is hot during the day and less hot during the night. That is not going to change throughout the duration of this tournament. The pitch stood up very well on the first day but with a slew of matches to be played over a short duration, it is expected to slow down significantly somewhere along the line.
This match should be similar to the first one and we could see scores of about 180 being treated as par.
Back the Balkh Legends to win
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