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|Ziaur Rahman Sharifi||4||7||0||0||57.14|
|Ziaur Rahman Sharifi||4.0||0||36||2||9.00|
The Paktia Panthers and Kabul Zwanan will face off against each other in the second semi-final of the Afghanistan Premier League. It is a contest that is going to be keenly fought because both these teams are pretty evenly matched. They also just played a match against each other in the group stage which the Paktia Panthers won.
All of the previous results will have little bearing though as the pressure of playing in a knockout is completely different. Both Kabul Zwanan and the Paktia Panthers have some explosive batsmen that can light up a contest and will be hoping that they bring their best to this match.
Mohammad Shahzad seems to be loving the opportunity to smash bowlers around the park with complete freedom. That is exactly what he seems to have done his entire career anyway but now given the license in a T20 league, without the pressure of playing for his country weighing him down, he has really come into his own.
Mohammad Shahzad is the leading scorer of this tournament with 343 runs to his name. He has been the mainstay of the Paktia Panthers batting unit and ensured they are in with a winning chance if he stays for any reasonable period of time.
Shahzad smashed the Kabul bowlers for 62 runs in 37 balls in the last match as well.
He is going to be the prize wicket for the Kabul bowlers in this semi-final.
Ihasanullah retired hurt in the last match and it is unclear if he will be able to play this upcoming match. Even if he does not play, though, the Paktia Panthers have some very good batsmen to call upon. Callum MacLeod has started inching towards the top of the order, a position where he is much more adept and useful, while Samiullah Shenwari is finding some run-scoring form too.
Cameron Delport and Sikandar Raza were rested for the last game but they should definitely be back. Delport has scored 154 runs in the tournament with a best 70 not out while Raza has scored 140 with a best of 78 not out.
Raza also contributes with the ball and is brilliant in the field.
Shahid Afridi and Isuru Udana are also near certain starters in the playing eleven which means that MacLeod may be the one to miss out.
The bowling for the Paktia Panthers needs its two stalwart overseas players otherwise they may be targeted by the Kabul batsmen. As things stand, Ziaur Rahman, Sharafuddin Ashraf, and Ahmadzai seem likely to make the eleven as a part of the bowling unit.
The Paktia Panthers have won five out of their eight matches this season and been the second best side on display. They can, however, suffer some truly spectacular collapses, making them a bit unpredictable.
M Shahzad, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, C Delport, Calum MacLeod, Samiullah Shenwari, SMSK Afridi, Sharafuddin Ashraf, Isuru Udana, Tahir Adil, Ziaur Rahman Sharifi, Azmatullah Omarzai.
If the Paktia Panthers have Mohammad Shahzad then Kabul Zwanan has Hazratullah Zazai. Forever etched into the record book by smashing six sixes off one over, Zazai has had a very productive tournament as well.
He has scored 288 runs in the tournament and will be one of the most dangerous batsmen in a strong Kabul Zwanan batting lineup.
Alongside Zazai are two other batsmen with more than 200 runs to their name. The first is his opening partner, Luke Ronchi, and the other is the English middle order batsman, Laurie Evans.
Both these players are going to play a vital role in Kabul’s success in the semi-final. Ronchi has been known to turn things up in the big matches and we are backing him to play one of his trademark fliers in this game.
Similarly, Laurie Evans has been the rock that has steadied the Kabul ship all through this tournament. There were many occasions where the Kabul Zwanana team was in trouble only for Laurie Evans to bail them out.
He is able to play the big shots with a degree of consistency that is quite rare.
If Colin Ingram, Wayne Parnell, and someone like Shahidullah can also come to the party then Kabul’s batting is going to be very hard to stop.
On the bowling front, we believe that Kabul has a bit of a disadvantage over the Paktia Panthers. Kabul is led by Rashid Khan, the best T20 bowler in the world, but the other players have somewhat underperformed.
Wayne Parnell continues to have a reputation for a good T20 bowler even though he continues to be smashed in tournament after tournament around the world. Ali Khan is not able to find a place in the side and the Afghan locals are not of the same quality as say the unit in a side like the Balkh Legends.
If Rashid Khan goes for runs then stopping the flow of runs from the other end is going to be extremely difficult.
Luke Ronchi, Hazratullah Zazai, Colin Ingram, MJ Ahmadi, Laurie Evans, Shahidullah Kamal, Rashid Khan, Farid Malik, WD Parnell, Muslim Musa, Fitratullah Khawari.
The team winning the toss is likely to bat first
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Sharjah has been spectacular in the manner it has been able to provide a wicket that has not completely died after so many matches on it. We are certain that another flat surface with low bounce and some amount of spin on it will be on offer.
The key is going to be to score runs up front and for one batsman to convert his start into a massive score. This is a contest between two high scoring teams and we think that a score of 180 should be seen as par.
We think that the Paktia Panthers are a better side than Kabul Zwanan. The number of explosive batsmen is almost the same on both sides but the bowling unit of the Paktia Panthers is slightly better.
Back the Paktia Panthers to win.
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