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|RN ten Doeschate||23||26||2||0||88.46|
|Ikram Ali Khil||7||7||0||0||100.00|
|Mujib Ur Rahman||3.0||0||16||0||5.33|
The Balkh Legends and the Nangarhar Leopards played in two very contrasting matches on the same day to showcase the diverse results this game offers. The Balkh Legends scored 244 and ended up winning by just 17 runs while the Nangarhar Leopards could only manage 126 runs and did not even come close to defending it.
The Balkh Legends have cemented their place at the top of the table with five wins from six matches. It looks certain that they will be competing for the title this year. The Nangarhar Leopards have won just two games out of the seven they have played but they could still make it to the semis.
Will the Legends become complacent and take it easy to give the Leopards a chance?
Chris Gayle came to the Afghanistan Premier League party big time in the last inning with a score of 80 from just 48 deliveries. In typical Gayle fashion, he started out slow and then unleashed a barrage of sixes to rocket along. He only got out to the most unfortunate of run-outs otherwise he had another century in T20 cricket for the taking.
The Legends also decided to give Dilshan Munaweera and Malcolm Waller a run in the side and may continue to do so for this match as well. Munaweera made the most of his opportunity by striking a confident 46 while Waller fell cheaply.
Perhaps the most exciting thing for Afghanistan would be to see the emergence of a batsman like Darwish Rasooli. He scored another 50 laced with 5 sixes. Surely he is one the shortlist to make it to the national team sooner rather than later.
The Balkh Legends showcased the depth in their batting thanks to Mohammad Nabi as well. He faced just 15 deliveries but scored 37 runs and turbocharged the finish to ensure they reach a record total.
The bowers from the Balkh Legends were put under serious pressure in the last match. Hazratullah Zazai smashed six sixes in one over from Abdullah Mazari, Gulbadin Naib had a night to forget, and Mirwais Ashraf was very expensive as well.
The sheer amount of runs that they were defending, though, allowed them to make a comeback. Qais Ahmed and Mohammad Nabi were the pick of the bowlers. The Balkh Legends flexed their muscles in the last game and even though they got a slight scare, showed that they have the necessary depth to pull things back from any situation.
EMDY Munaweera, Colin Munro, RN ten Doeschate, RS Bopara, Darwish Rasooli, Mohammad Nabi, Gulbadin Naib, Ikram Ali Khil, Mirwais Ashraf, Aftab Alam, Qais Ahmad.
The Nangarhar Leopards brought in Sandeep Lamichhane to bolster their bowling attack but could not do anything to get some runs on the board. The side has been struggling to get its batsmen into consistent run-scoring form and struggled once again from the get-go.
Devcich looked uncomfortable during his 15 ball stay, Najeeb Tarakai could not get the ball off the square, Johnson Charles showed some glimpses of form, but no one else showed any initiative.
Rahmat Shah was promoted up the order in this match, a sensible move, but he did himself no favors by playing 38 deliveries for his 32 runs. Wickets were falling at the other end which made Rahmat Shah’s inning somewhat understandable but in T20 cricket it is difficult to justify a strike rate of less than 100 for a top-order batsman.
Ben Cutting could not get going and added to the problems the Leopards have been facing this tournament. None of the overseas batsmen that the Nangarhar Leopards pick seem to be able to contribute and while the bowling is pretty good, it is not going to be effective defending just a handful of runs.
Mohammad Shahzad took a real liking to Naveen-ul- Haq and Zahir Khan in the last match effectively hitting them out of the attack. Mujeeb and Lamichhane, though, pegged things back with a few wickets and keeping the runs tight.
Overall, the Nangarhar Leopards performed to expectations and lost to a better side. This time they are up against the best side of the competition in a contest that we fear may be quite one-sided.
ADS Fletcher , Anton Devcich, J Charles, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Shafiqullah, R Shah, Ben Cutting, Naveen-ul-Haq, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Zahir Khan, F Niazai.
The team winning the toss is likely to bat first
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It is difficult to say what is going on with the Sharjah pitch when one match sees almost 500 runs being made while the other match is a low-scoring affair. The pitch has definitely slowed up and making the most of the new ball was key in the high-scoring affair. Players that get their eye in must make the most of it because new batsmen may struggle to immediately get going.
The Balkh Legends have not put a foot wrong in their last few matches while the Nangarhar Leopards are going through a bit of a crisis.
Back the Balk Legends to win.