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|Mujib Ur Rahman||7||4||1||0||175.00|
|Ziaur Rahman Sharifi||4.0||0||27||3||6.75|
|Mujib Ur Rahman||4.0||0||32||1||8.00|
Losses to both the Paktia Panthers and the Nangarhar Leopards has opened up the competition. All the teams are now on the board and will be hoping to capitalize on any weaknesses that they see. The Paktia Panthers had a horror game against the Balkh Legends. They did not bowl well, allowed the opposition to get too many runs, and then suffered a complete batting collapse. The Nangarhar Leopards would be equally disappointed with its performance.
They lost to the Kandahar Knights, a side that had failed to win a single match up until then. The Leopards were building some useful momentum in the tournament but now face an uphill task in qualifying for the final stages of this competition.
The Nangarhar Leopards are a pretty decent T20 side but the results have not gone their way. One look at their personnel shows that they some serious batting firepower throughout their ranks and some very highly reputed T20 bowlers as well.
The problem so far has been both the disciplines performing together.
Anton Devcich has become a very well known figure on the T20 circuit. He has already played one match winning inning for the Leopards and has adjusted to the conditions very well. We like the fact that he is opening the batting because that allows him to take advantage of the field restrictions and play when the ball is hard.
Johnson Charles, who has been opening the batting with him, has yet to really get going in this tournament. Charles had a very good CPL this year where he consistently managed to get his team off to some flyers. If Charles can just play a quick cameo of 30-40 runs then it will set up the batsmen to follow nicely.
The Nangarhar Leopards have decided to push Rahmat Khan down the order and play Imran Janat, Shafiqullah, and Hashmatullah Shahidi in the middle order. This has been the area where the Leopards have fallen behind because while these players are talented, they don’t have the class that some of their other compatriots do.
Ben Cutting in the lower order and Nathan Rimmington are capable of getting some lusty blows away but overall, the batting depth looks a little thin for the Nangarhar Leopards.
The bowling attack for the Leopards is quite good, though. They have Mujeeb ur Rahman, a player that is not getting the same respect in this competition as he gets in international cricket, Ben Cutting, Nathan Rimmington, and Zahir Khan.
All of these are international quality bowlers that pose unique challenges to the batsmen.
Anton Devich, Naveen Ul Haq, and Rahmat Shah can all combine for the rest of the overs providing the Nangarhar Leopards a lot of options.
N Tarakai, J Charles, Anton Devcich, Hashmatullah Shahidi, R Shah, Shafiqullah, Ben Cutting, Naveen-ul-Haq, Sandeep Lamichhane, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Zahir Khan.
The confidence-sapping loss in the last game must be disregarded by the Paktia Panthers as an off day in an otherwise successful campaign up until then. The Panthers has been one of the best batting sides on display thanks to the form that Mohammad Shahzad, Cameron Delport, and Sikandar Raza have shown.
Rahmanullah Gurbaz also showed his ability with the bat as he smashed four sixes in his 22 ball stay. If he can build on that inning then the Paktia Panthers would have added another very dangerous batsmen to their lineup.
The fact, though, is that they need one of Shahzad, Delport, or Raza to score heavily in every game. Mohammad Shahzad loves the license of going hard at the bowling and has been remarkably consistent this season.
If he can fir on more occasions than not then the Paktia Panthers are going to be a force to be reckoned with. Cameron Delport and Sikandar Raza have performed admirably well also.
While Delport can play the big inning, Raza contributes in all facets of the game. We would always pick Sikandar Raza as a potential candidate for man of the match because he is always in the game.
The idea of playing Callum MacLeod in the middle order does not sit well with us. He is a top-order batsman that is at his best against the new ball. Sweeping against the spinners is something he does with confidence but the T20 format does not give him the time to settle down coming in with just a few overs to go.
If Callum MacLeod has to play in that position, then the Panthers would be better looking for an alternative overseas player in their ranks. On the bowling side, Isuru Udana has become the spearhead for the Panthers.
He gets wickets on most occasions and keeps the runs tight as well. The supporting cast, though, is not too special and that is where the Panthers fall behind sometimes.
M Shahzad, Ihsanullah, C Delport, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Sikandar Raza, Samiullah Shenwari, SMSK Afridi, Sharafuddin Ashraf, Isuru Udana, Ziaur Rahman Sharifi, Yousuf Zazai.
The team winning the toss is likely to bat first
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We expect to see the spinners in both these sides come to the fore as the Sharjah surface becomes more and more tired. Scores of about 160 will be difficult to chase and perhaps both teams would do well to recalibrate their ambitions in this match.
Both the teams competing in this match are flawed. There are some obvious weaknesses in both. We are, however, backing the Paktia Panthers to renew their winning habit and get the better of the Nangarhar Leopards in this contest.
Back the Paktia Panthers to win.
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