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|RN ten Doeschate||27||30||1||1||90.00|
|Ikram Ali Khil||1||3||0||0||33.33|
The last couple of matches in the group stages of the Afghanistan Premier League are upon us as the teams start to build towards the knockouts. The Balkh Legends have been experimenting a bit with their side and that could be the reason why they recorded their lowest score of the season in their last match as well. The loss in the last game means that the Balkh Legends will want to play its strongest eleven players in the best possible positions to get ready for the upcoming matches.
Their opponents, the Kandahar Knights, need to win this match so that it can elevate itself over the Nangarhar Leopards on the basis of a better net run-rate. This match is much more crucial for the Kandahar Knights than it is for the Balkh Legends.
Chris Gayle rested from the last match and Dilshan Munaweera got another go at the top of the order. The time for giving its different players has come to an end, though. This is the last match that the team will play before its semi-final clash and it would ideally want to know exactly what its first eleven is heading into that match.
We would love to see Gayle, Munro, Darwish Rasooli, Ryan ten Doeschate, and Ravi Bopara be the top-5 for the Balkh Legends because this is the group of players that we believe can win the title for the Balkh Legends.
Mohammad Nabi as the all-rounder, followed by some of the most talented Afghan bowlers, is a combination that looks hard to argue against.
There is plenty of power hitting capability in this team. Chris Gayle has already played one of his trademark sixes filled inning, Munro has been in good touch, ten DOeschate and Bopara have been brilliant in the middle and all the other players have batted with a very high strike rate as well.
Players like Rasooli and Nabi give this side a lot of balance because it does not make them overly dependent on the foreign players.
Among the bowlers, we love what Qais Ahmad brings to the table. He is a fearless leg-spin bowler who keeps looking for wickets irrespective when he is asked to bowl. Aftab Alam, Gulbadin Naib, and Mirwais Ashraf have all been very good as well.
It helps when the bowling side has plenty of runs to defend, like how the Balkh Legends have been giving their bowlers in most of the matches. If they are able to do the same thing in the final again then this bowling is going to be difficult to overcome no matter who the opposition is.
Chris Gayle, Colin Munro, Darwish Rasooli, RN ten Doeschate, RS Bopara, Mohammad Nabi, Ikram Ali Khil, Mirwais Ashraf, Aftab Alam, Qais Ahmad, Samiullah Salarzai.
A good chase thanks to a superb inning from Asghar Afghan helped carry the Kandahar Knights its second win of the season. The Knights were up against the Paktia Panthers, another top-side in this tournament and one that had qualified long before this match was even played.
The Kandahar Knights are at the bottom of the table because their overseas players have been terrible. Paul Stirling and Brendon McCullum have been atrocious this season. They have not scored any runs and failed their side, to be honest.
The lack of better alternatives in the squad means that the players will continue to play till their last game. Here is an interesting little though, though. What if McCullum and Stirling were to find form now and propel their team to a few upsets? A punter could really break the bank if this prediction came through.
We cannot, however, actually recommend that you back the Kandahar Knights. Even their most recent top-scorer, Asghar Afghan, is not our favorite T20 player because he often loses steam in the middle due to poor fitness and throws his wicket away.
Rikki Wessels is perhaps the one player in the side that has some serious T20 credentials to him and a lot of consistency in scoring as well but he is batting out of his position. This season has been tough for the Kandahar Knights and if they can somehow win this match and make it into the knockouts, then it will be a near miracle.
The bowing unit of the Knights comprises of Mohammad Naveed, Sayed Shirzad, WaqarSalamkheil, and Karim Janat. There are a few good spinners in there and some useful medium pacers but nothing that will really bother the Balkh Legends if they get going.
PR Stirling, Asghar Stanikzai, Brendon McCullum, Nasir Jamal, Riki Wessels, N Zadran, Karim Janat, Karim Sadiq, Sayed Shirzad, TS Mills, Waqar Salamkheil.
The team winning the toss is likely to bat first
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The Balkh Legends struggled to score after a poor start in their last match and that was no surprise. Run-scoring against the new ball is crucial because the older ball has started to grip the Sharjah surface much more. There is hardly any life in the surface for the bowlers although to be fair there was any hardly any life in the surface, to begin with.
The Balkh Legends has this match won easily if it puts its best team on the park.
Back the Balkh Legends to win.