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|Mujib Ur Rahman||4.0||0||37||1||9.25|
Nangarhar Leopards chased down a competitive total against Kandahar Knights to register a win in their opening match of the tournament and get off the mark as far as points are concerned. They'll be looking to build on this win when they meet Paktia Panthers in their next game which is to be played on 7th October at Sharjah Cricket Ground. Paktia Panthers, too, have played just one game in the competition so far where they lost to Kabul Zwanan in a closely fought contest. Only a couple of days have lapsed in the competition and we've already seen plenty of emotions involved in those days. With emotions running high, expect both the sides to come out all guns blazing in this game as well.
Just like the first match of the Afghanistan Premier League, the second match, too, was won by the team batting second. Nangarhar Leopards emerged victorious with nine balls to spare while chasing a modest total of 139.
The Nangarhar openers, Johnson Charles and Najeeb Tarakai, got them off to a steady start as Leopards lost their first wicket after 46 runs. They lost wickets in chunks thereafter as they were reduced to 78 for 4 with Anton Devcich departing in 12th over. However, some intelligent batting by Hashmatullah Shahidi and Shafiqullah Shafiq saw them home with an unbeaten 42-ball 64-run partnership.
Earlier in the day, their bowlers did exceedingly well to dismiss Kandahar Knights to a below-par total. Spinners Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Zahir Khan played vital roles to stem the flow of runs and skipper Ben Cutting kept chipping away with the wickets with his intelligent variations. Cutting was the pick of their attack as he picked up 5 for 28 in his four overs. The bowling department of Nangarhar Leopards appears to be well settled with plenty of part-time bowling options available alongside the likes of McClenaghan, Mujeeb, and Cutting. They were all impactful in the first match and certainly look good enough to tackle even the best in the business.
J Charles, N Tarakai, Anton Devcich, R Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Shafiqullah, Ben Cutting, MJ Mcclenaghan, Naveen-ul-Haq, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Zahir Khan.
Afghanistan Premier League greeted us with a stunning game of Cricket where Paktia Panthers were defeated by Kabul Zwanan in a high-scoring close contest. The Panthers would have been the happier of the two sides at the halfway stage as their batsmen racked up a massive total of 218 batting first.
Mohammad Shahzad and Ihsanullah Janat got them off to a flying start as the duo partnered to score 101 runs in just over 9 overs. Shahzad followed Mohammad Shahzad back to the hut in the same over to leave Panthers at 107 for 2. Sikandar Raza then played a scintillating innings of 78 from just 40 balls to take them to a mammoth looking total.
While the total could have been enough on many days for most teams in the world, it didn't happen to be the same for Paktia Panthers on Friday. They did get off to a solid start as they dismissed Luke Ronchi and Hazratullah Zazai within the powerplay overs, but poor death bowling cost them the match. Shahid Afridi recorded one of his worst figures in T20 cricket as he gave away 55 runs in his four overs without any wicket. They eventually lost the match with five balls to spare.
Ihsanullah, M Shahzad, C Delport, Sikandar Raza, Samiullah Shenwari, SMSK Afridi, Sharafuddin Ashraf, Isuru Udana, Ziaur Rahman, Azmatullah Omarzai, Yousuf Zazai.
All three games in the tournament thus far have been won by the team batting second. Therefore, we expect the captain winning the toss decide to field first.
Read our guide on toss predictions to learn how we analyze and come up with our tips.
Although heat has been a factor, day-night games have made it a tad easier for players in the middle. The surfaces have been excellent to bat on thus far albeit with some assistance for the spinners. Spinners are once again likely to play a key role here and the team batting first should be looking to score in excess of 180.
Both the sides have had a different fate in their respective opening matches. While it was an easy cruise for Nangarhar Leopards, the Panthers fought hard only to find themselves on the wrong side of the result. Batting clicked well for the Panthers, but their death bowling was listless. On the other hand, everything clicked well for the Leopards. With experienced T20 bowlers in Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Ben Cutting, Leopards' bowling is in safe hands. Leopards will draw confidence from the win in their first match and with a settled batting unit and experienced bowling attack, they are better-placed to emerge on top in the upcoming fixture as well.