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|RN ten Doeschate||12||20||2||0||60.00|
|Ikram Ali Khil||9||16||0||0||56.25|
We think it’s fair to say that the two best sides of the Afghanistan Premier League have made it to the inaugural final. The Balkh Legends were dominant in the league stage and then absolutely crushed the Nangarhar Leopards in their semi-final.
Kabul Zwanan had a much more difficult time in the league stages, particularly against the Paktia Panthers, but they a brilliant game in the semi-final to reach the finals. Its winner take all in this final game and with match winners on both sides, any one player could make the difference.
Can the Balkh Legends be stopped or are they just too good to lose? Can Kabul Zwanan continue to perform at its best for two game days in succession?
After some experimentation with their lineup so that the players on the bench could get some game time as well, the Balkh Legends went back to their best side in the semi-final. In all likelihood, unless there is an injury, the same side will play again.
After scoring 235 in the semi-final, the Balkh Legends underscored the power in its batting lineup.
Headlining this lineup is Chris Gayle, now with an opportunity to win another T20 title. He scored 54 in the last match and left no doubt as to the kind of form he is in right now. Darwish Rasooli, though, has been the real find of this tournament.
He scored 78 off just 45 balls and now has 209 runs in the tournament off just six innings. The fact that has scored all these runs at a strike rate of 154 should really raise hopes about the future of Afghanistan batting.
A young kid like this should be able to play fearlessly in the final and give Kabul to really think about something.
Apart from Chris Gayle, the team played Colin Munro, Ravi Bopara, and Ryan Ten Doeschateas their other overseas players. Ten Doeschate has been the best batsman this year for the Balkh Legends and even though he did not need to do much in the semi-final, he could find himself being promoted up the order in the final.
It was encouraging to see Mohammad Nabi come up the order and play another one of his brilliant cameos. Nabi has been hitting sixes with unbelievable ease in the tournament and has smashed 15 of them already. That number is second to only Gayle’s 23 sixes in the tournament so far.
There is clearly plenty of batting in the Balkh Legends side and it will take a spectacular collapse to stop them from scoring heavily.
As far as the bowling goes, the Balkh Legends went with the all-Afghan outfit of Qais Ahmad, Aftab Alam, Gulbadin Naib, Mirwais Ashraf, and Ikram Ali Khil. There are some very talented and experienced bowlers in this lineup who are well supported by all-rounders like Nabi and Bopara.
All in all, there is nothing to change in this Balkh Legends side going forward. All they need to do is to avoid the jitters on the bog day and play like they have been doing so far.
Chris Gayle, Darwish Rasooli, Colin Munro, RN ten Doeschate, RS Bopara, Mohammad Nabi, Gulbadin Naib, Ikram Ali Khil, Mirwais Ashraf, Qais Ahmad, Aftab Alam.
Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Rashid Khan certainly seems to be abode by the principal as he put in a brilliant all-round performance to lead his side to victory.
Kabul Zwanan batted first against the Paktia Panthers and were in some strife after losing their top-order for not too many runs. Luke Ronchi and Wayne Parnell departed early while Hazratullah Zazai and Colin Ingram could not kick on after getting a decent start either.
Laurie Evans started another recovery for the side before he fell and then it was down to Rashid Khan who scored 35 runs from just 19 balls including three sixes in the last over of the inning.
That boost, in the end, meant that Kabul Zwanan had reached a total of 192, something that would have tested any side in this competition. As things turned out, maybe even a score which was 30 runs lesser would have been enough.
We always knew that Kabul had a good batting side but it has been their bowling which has let them down. In this match, though, everyone managed to get into the wickets and packed off the Paktia Panthers for just 100 odd runs. Rashid Khan picked 4 wickets for just 20 runs in his 3.5 overs but perhaps it was Parnell’s wicket of Mohammad Shahzad early in the inning that was more impactful.
Kabul Zwanan now has the tough task of trying to find a way past the Balkh Legends in the final. It is not going to be easy but Kabul certainly has the players to win matches. Players like Luke Ronchi, Hazratullah Zazai, Colin Ingram, and Rashid Khan are all match winners for sure.
If Wayne Parnell and the other bowlers are able to have a good evening in the final then the batting side can go toe to toe with the Balkh Legends. This is where the match will be decided.
Parnell himself is prone to give away plenty of runs while Fareed Ahmed, Javed Ahmadi, Muslim Musa, and Shahidullah are not going to put fear into any of the Balkh Legends batsmen.
Kabul needs one of its batsmen and its entire bowling attack to have a brilliant night to emerge victorious in this encounter.
Luke Ronchi, Hazratullah Zazai, WD Parnell, Colin Ingram, MJ Ahmadi, Laurie Evans, Shahidullah Kamal, Rashid Khan, Muslim Musa, Nasir Totakhil, Farid Malik.
The team winning the toss is likely to bat first
Read our guide on toss predictions to learn how we analyze and come up with our tips.
The weather is going to be hot and dry for the final of the Afghanistan Premier League like it has been for this entire tournament. Batting first seems to be the way to go because the pitch continues to gets slower as the game progresses.
Six hitting has been pretty easy and that tends to skew the scores but we think that a total of 180 should be considered a very good one.
The Balkh Legends are the obvious favourites heading into this encounter. They have the better batting unit and bowling side. For Kabul Zwanan to win, some amount of individual brilliance is needed. All in all, the chances of a better team performance from the Balkh Legends to win the inaugural Afghanistan Premier League title seem quite high.
Back the Balkh Legends to win.