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|Mujib Ur Rahman||3.0||0||45||0||15.00|
Afghanistan Premier League is set to resume on Tuesday after a rest day in between with Nangarhar Leopards taking on Kabul Zwanan in an important fixture. Both the teams are coming off a loss in their last respective games after a win in their respective first matches. This upcoming contest provides both the teams with an opportunity to get their form and rhythm back with competition likely to grow intense as we approach the business end of the tournament.
Rashid Khan returns to don the captain's hat after his unsuccessful stint in the World Cup Qualifiers earlier in the year. However, he's had a reasonable start thus far with a win and loss registered against his team's name. Having said that, Kabul Zwawan have had a fair share of problems in the two matches they've played.
They clearly appear to be a couple of bowlers short. Barring Rashid Khan, no bowler has looked incisive enough and their failure to defend a near 180-run total in their last match validates that. Also, they conceded 218 runs in their first match which also highlights the vulnerabilities in their bowling attack. Wayne Parnell is an experienced bowler and he will have a key role to play in the upcoming matches.
Up until now, their batsmen have masked the vulnerabilities in their bowling attack. Laurie Evans and Rashid Khan have been fantastic with the bat, but Kabul Zwanan appear to be a bit too over-reliant on the duo. Ingram had a terrific time in T20 Blast in England and he'd be keen to find form in the APL as soon as possible. Luke Ronchi, too, would have to step up with only two batsmen firing as of now.
Luke Ronchi, Hazratullah Zazai, Colin Ingram, Laurie Evans, MJ Ahmadi, Shahidullah Kamal, Rashid Khan, WD Parnell, Farid Malik, Nijat Masood, Zahir Shirzad.
Despite facing a loss in their previous match, Nangarhar Leopards have appeared to be the most settled side of the tournament. They have six bowlers who all can complete their quota of four overs each if required. In addition to that, they bat deep with Ben Cutting available at number seven.
Their top-order failed to fire in their last game, but the management will be hoping that the collapse was nothing more than a one-time event. Despite the collapse, however, they way Hashmatullah Shahidi and Ben Cutting kept them in the game was commendable to say the least. Also, we might see Andre Russell take the field in this game which would further boost their batting as well as their bowling attack.
With the likes of Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Zahir Khan, and Mitchell McClenaghan, their bowling is second to none in this competition. Rahman has been brilliant in the powerplay while Zahir Khan has complemented him well in the middle overs. Although McClenaghan has been put away for runs in the first two games, he is a genuine wicket-taker and is likely to retain his place.
N Tarakai, Anton Devcich, R Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Andre Russell, Shafiqullah, Ben Cutting, MJ Mcclenaghan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Naveen-ul-Haq, Zahir Khan.
Results have favored the team batting second in the tournament. Small boundaries coupled with an excellent surface to bat has made defending a tough task here. Therefore, we expect the captain winning the toss to field first.
It's expected to be a yet another hot day at Sharjah with negligible chances of rain. The surface here has been excellent to bat on albeit with some assistance for the spinners. It's likely to stay the same in this upcoming fixture and defending any total will be tough. The team batting first should be looking to put at least a 180-run total on the board.
Although these are still early days in Afghanistan Premier League, we have already seen some moments of brilliance from both the sides. Laurie Evans and Rashid Khan have been fantastic for Kabul Zwawan in their first couple of games, but they've lacked support be it with the bat or ball. The Leopards, on the other hand, have looked better-balanced side with various options in bowling and settled batting lineup. The possible return of Andre Russell would add to their already strong balance. With plenty of options available with the ball and an overall better team, the Leopards are more likely to emerge on top in this upcoming fixture.