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|RN ten Doeschate||8||5||1||0||160.00|
|Mujib Ur Rahman||3.0||0||51||0||17.00|
|Mujib Ur Rahman||6||8||0||1||75.00|
So, here we are at the business end of the tournament after a hard-fought tussle lasting two weeks. Afghanistan Premier League so far has been a treat to watch for the cricket fans with some extraordinary performances from star players. The semifinal stage will kick off on 19th October with Balkh Legends taking on Nangarhar Leopards at Sharjah.
It's been even stevens in the group stage between the two sides. The first match was won comfortably by Balkh Legends by 25 runs whereas the Leopards turned the tables to register a much-needed win. Although the Legends have been brilliant thus far in the tournament, they won't be taking the Leopards lightly considering the strong bowling lineup the Leopards have. We expect it to be yet another nail-biting encounter in Afghanistan Premier League 2018.
The Legends have arguably been the best side in the tournament so far. They have thrived well under the leadership of Mohammad Nabi, who himself has performed tremendously well. Expectedly, they finished at the top in the points table riding on some brilliant performances by Chris Gayle, Ryan ten Doeschate, Colin Munro, and skipper himself over the course of the group stage.
Chris Gayle joined the squad late, but the Legends have appeared to be an altogether different outfit since his joining. Gayle was at his absolute best when he smashed Kandahar bowlers all around the park and scored 73 runs off just 22 deliveries. This made the chase of 142 a walk in the park for the batsmen to follow and spend some time in the middle before the knockouts. They bat deep with the likes of Nabi and Gulbadin Naib coming late in the order which can be a match-winning factor if top-order fails to fire.
The Legends seem to be perfectly balanced with equal depth in their bowling department. The all-rounders in Mohammad Nabi and Gulbadin Naib not only add depth to their batting lineup, but to bowling attack as well. Mirwais Ashraf has been brilliant for them and has stemmed the run flow in the middle overs quite convincingly. Overall, the Legends are a nicely balanced team with powerful and experienced performers in both the departments. As was the case in the group stage, it's going to be tough for any team to get past Balkh Legends.
Chris Gayle, Colin Munro, Darwish Rasooli, RN ten Doeschate, RS Bopara, Mohammad Nabi, Ikram Ali Khil, Gulbadin Naib, Mirwais Ashraf, Qais Ahmad, Aftab Alam.
Although the Leopards have appeared to be a finely-balanced team on paper, they haven't really been consistent enough. After starting off on a high note, they lost their way in the middle part of the tournament. They eventually managed to just sneak into the final four with just three wins out of the eight games played in the league stage.
Despite having some spectacular hitters available in their batting lineup, it's been rather surprising that their batting has been the main cause of their inconsistency. Although Anton Devcich was slow, to begin with, he has been brilliant in his last few outings and will be a big threat for the Legends. Hashmatullah Shahidi and Ben Cutting have done well in the death overs, but more often than not they've had too much to do because of the top-order failure.
The Leopards will draw confidence from their previous encounter with Balkh Legends. They chased down an easy 133-run target riding on Andre Fletcher's 22-ball 43. Naveen-ul Haq, Fazal Niazai, and Zahir Khan were superb with the ball in restricting Legends to a modest total. They have an experienced bowling attack with Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Zahir Khan, and Ben Cutting at their disposal. They'd need to put up yet another disciplined performance with the ball and if they can do that, the Legends will have their task cut out.
ADS Fletcher , Anton Devcich, J Charles, Ibrahim Zadran, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Shafiqullah, Ben Cutting, F Niazai, Naveen-ul-Haq, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Zahir Khan.
Although teams prefer to bat first and put runs on the board in high-pressure encounters, this tournament has been dominated by the teams chasing. Batting second has been easy in the tournament largely due to the dew factor and we expect the team winning the toss to field first.
Read our guide on toss predictions to learn how we analyze and come up with our tips.
The surface of Sharjah has slowed down considerably as compared to what it was like in the first half of the competition. The score of above 200 have vanished as the scoring with the order ball has become difficult. Power-play has been the best time to score of late and we're likely to see this in the upcoming game as well. Dew could play a major role in this game and chasing here is likely to be easier. The team bowling first will be considerably happy if they're able to restrict the opponents for anything under 170.
Balkh Legends have been a more consistent side as compared to Nangarhar Leopards in the tournament so far. They also rank higher than the Leopards on batting strength which could be crucial in a high-pressure encounter. Although the Leopards emerged victorious in their last match, they have plenty of issues to deal with. Therefore, the Balkh Legends are better placed to win this match and cruise to the final of first-ever Afghanistan Premier League.