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|RN ten Doeschate||13||17||1||0||76.47|
The Afghanistan Premier League is being played at a hectic pace where the matches come thick and fast. It makes getting off to a good start very important for teams otherwise you could be at the bottom of the table and struggling to make the knockouts before you know it. The Balkh Legends started their first game with a smashing win even without the dangerous Chris Gayle in their side. They will now take on the Kandahar Knights who lost their first match convincingly and will need to get their act together immediately.
The APL is shaping up to be a tightly fought contest with most teams capable of beating each other. If the Kandahar Knights can get their first win in this match then it will just make things all the more interesting.
Ryan Ten Doeschate did not have a very good season in the Vitality Blast and his return for the Netherlands has also been poor whenever he has played for them in the past year or so. He could not have chosen a better time to find his form, though, from the Balkh Legends perspective as he smashed 78 off 46 deliveries and helped his team chase down 177 with ease.
In fact, with eight wickets in hand, the Legends would have been confident of chasing down an even bigger score.
Colin Munro did not have a good match at the top of the order as he got out for 7. His performances in slow conditions have not been the best in the past and with Chris Gayle possibly waiting in the wings, it is his position that will come under scrutiny.
Still, with Ghani, Ten Doeschate, and Bopara getting runs, the top order of the Balkh Legends is looking in good shape. They also have Mohammad Nabi and Gulbadin Naib in the middle order, both of whom are proven performers and doing the same job for the Afghanistan international side as well.
The Balkh Legends did not have a great bowling outing, though. Their main bowler, Ben Laughlin, went for 53 runs in his four overs without taking a wicket. That is incredibly rare when it comes to Laughlin who can be banked upon to deliver in the death overs.
Ravi Bopara also went for plenty of runs but luckily Mohammad Nabi, Gulbadin Naib, Aftab Alam, and Mirwais Ashraf managed to pull things back.
We continue to believe that this Balkh Legends side is one of the best (if not the best) sides of the Afghanistan Premier League and will be difficult to beat in every single game.
Colin Munro, RN ten Doeschate, RS Bopara, Darwish Rasooli, Mohammad Nabi, Gulbadin Naib, Ikram Ali Khil, Aftab Alam, Ben Laughlin, Qais Ahmad, Usman Ghani.
The Kandahar Knights suffered a batting failure in their first game and could not post a challenging total. That resulted in a heavy defeat which given their team composition, was not altogether surprising. Take a look at the overseas players in this side. Brendon McCullum, Paul Stirling, Kevin O’Brien, and Tymal Mills.
None of these players is what we would call dependable or consistent. In T20 cricket, you expect players to go hard at the bowling and lose their wickets but with McCullum, Stirling, and O'Brien, the successful innings are just too far and few in between.
There is no doubt that they are potential match winners but there are far too many tournaments when they play the odd match-winning inning and then continue to fail around it. That is not something good for the team. The presence of these players makes the Kandahar Knights very dangerous because every team will be wary of being the ones they score against.
Tymal Mills is also another bowler who has not impressed us with his bowling performances over a sustained period of time. He refuses to learn to use his variations better and can be very wayward at times.
The Afghan players in the side are also not of the highest pedigree. Asghar Afghan, the international skipper, is in the side but he is not someone we would peg as a ‘must-have’ in a T20 lineup.
There are a lot of holes in this lineup which can be taken advantage of and for the Kandahar Knights to win, the only route seems to be through individual brilliance. If one of their overseas players has a tournament to remember then they will be serious contenders, but up until there is proof of that, we cannot recommend betting on this side.
PR Stirling, Brendon McCullum, Asghar Stanikzai, N Zadran, Karim Sadiq, Kevin O'Brien, Karim Janat, Amir Hamza, Sayed Shirzad, TS Mills, Waqar Salamkheil.
The team winning the toss is likely to field first
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Sharjah’s pitch has continued to hold up until now and is offering the batsmen a decent batting surface to play on. The overseas batsmen not used to these conditions will be tested as the tournament progresses and that is something to be considered while making your bets. As of now, we expect a flat surface that is slow in nature and helpful to the spinners towards the end.
Scores of around 180 have been par.
Balk Legends to win