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|Ziaur Rahman Sharifi||3.0||1||15||0||5.00|
After almost a 3-week long tussle we're finally all set for the final day of the league stage. Interestingly, the semifinalists are yet to be finalized and a lot will depend on the two remaining games of Afghanistan Premier League. Kabul Zwanan will take on Paktia Panthers in the second game of Thursday at Sharjah. While this game isn't really going to have an effect on which team will make it to the playoffs, it is definitely expected to bring a lot of swashbuckling performances for the fans. It will be a no-pressure game for both the sides, but no team will be taking it lightly considering that the playoffs are just around the corner.
Despite an inexperienced bowling attack, the way Kabul Zwanan have done in this competition has been commendable. They started off this tournament with a win but lost it in the middle of the tournament. They've, however, put up some brilliant performances towards the end of the group stage due to the virtue of which they're in decent position.
Right from the beginning of the tournament, Kabul have shown strength in their batting department. Laurie Evans was brilliant in their first couple of matches and Hazratullah Zazai and Luke Ronchi picked up pace after that. Kabul Zwanan have a batting lineup which is second to none and will be tough to get past for any bowling attack.
However, unlike their batting, their bowling hasn't really fired. Their inexperienced bowling attack has lacked consistency and accuracy. Barring Rashid Khan and Wayne Parnell, they do not have anyone else with considerable experience of white ball cricket. It has often been difficult for them when Rashid Khan is hit for a few runs early in his spell. Overall, they have a quality batting lineup and if it's their day with the ball, they'll be difficult to beat.
Luke Ronchi, Hazratullah Zazai, Colin Ingram, Afsar Zazai, Shawkat Zaman, WD Parnell, Muslim Musa, Nasir Totakhil, Usman Adil, Ali Khan, Fitratullah Khawari.
Although Paktia Panthers lost their previous match to Kandahar Knights, the margin of loss was so small that it didn't really spoil their chances of qualification to the next round. They are second on the points table, thanks to their superior net run rate, with four wins in seven matches.
They have a lot of similarity with Kabul Zwanan as far as their team composition is concerned. They have immense batting strength with the batsmen like Mohammad Shahzad, Cameron Delport, and Sikandar Raza available at their disposal. Insanullah Jamat and Shahzad have been fluent at the top and the Panthers have thrived under the leadership of Mohammad Shahzad.
On the contrary, their bowling attack isn't really as good as their batting. They appear to be a little over-reliant on Isuru Udana who has impressed one and all with his variations at the death. They'd need their other bowlers to step up their game to get past the powerful batting lineup of Kabul Zwanan.
M Shahzad, Ihsanullah, Calum MacLeod, Samiullah Shenwari, SMSK Afridi, S Prasanna, Sharafuddin Ashraf, Isuru Udana, Ziaur Rahman Sharifi, Yamin Ahmadzai, Tahir Adil.
With dew being a factor and teams preferring to chase in T20s of late, we expect the team winning the toss to win the toss and bowl 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 at the beginning of the competition. The average score has reduced from around 190s to around 170s in the past week. Spinners are likely to enjoy bowling on this surface, but batsmen, too, will be getting value for their shots. Anything over 180 could be difficult to chase on this surface.
Both the teams are similarly poised as far as team combination and recent results are concerned. With batting being the stronger suite of both the sides, it is expected to be a treat to watch for the fans. While the match could go either way, with Rashid Khan in fine form with the ball, and stronger batting lineup, Kabul Zwanan are better placed to win this dead-rubber encounter.
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