SHARJAH: Balkh Legends beat the Nangarhar Leopards in the first semi-final by 171 runs to move into the final of the Afghanistan Premier League (APL) T20. In the process, Balkh Legends recorded the largest victory by runs in the APL T20 2018.
In a big game, one would follow the old adage of batting first on winning the toss. Mohammad Nabi had no hesitation in doing so and his batsmen lived up to his hopes. In an inspiring team batting effort, the Balkh Legends took the attack to the Nangarhar Leopards bowlers to record a formidable 235 for five.
To start things off, it was Chris Gayle who took on the bowlers. Coming into this game at the back of an attacking innings in the last league game, Gayle carried that form into this game. He smashed a 30-ball 54 to set the tone for the innings. There was a change in opening combination as Darwish Rasooli walked out with Gayle.
Initially, Rasooli was calm and didn’t need to do much with Gayle smashing the bowlers to all parts. Following the 75-run opening stand, Rasooli took control and batted through to the last over for a well-made 78 off 45 balls. The middle-order too contributed with Colin Munro getting 33 at a decent pace. The knock that actually stole the attention was skipper Nabi’s 46 off 16 balls, which featured five sixes.
The 200 was up in 17 overs. The Nangarhar Leopards bore the brunt of the aggression. Mujeeb-ur-Rehman went for 51 in only three overs, with 26 coming off his last. Naveen-ul-Haq was the most economical bowler with one for 33 in four overs. Ben Cutting finished with two wickets. Not much to cheer for them, although Anton Devcich’s catch to dismiss Rasooli was one to savour. Chasing 236 in a T20 game is an uphill task on any day, let alone in a knock-out. Andre Fletcher tried to attack early but was bowled by Nabi in the third over. Johnson Charles followed soon after smashing one to cover. It was a procession thereafter! They had lost half their side by the time they reached 23 in the sixth over. Nabi accounted for three of those wickets. By the time the rain came down, Nangarhar Leopards were in a hopeless position at 39 for six in 7.2 overs. The break in play didn’t stop the procession as Cutting was dismissed soon after play resumed. Ultimately, the Nangarhar Leopards bowed out of the tournament having been bowled out for a paltry 64. Brief scores: Balkh Legends 235 for five in 20 overs (Chris Gayle 54, Darwish Rasooli 78, Mohammad Nabi 47; Ben Cutting 2 for 38) beat Nangarhar Leopards 64 all out in 13.1 overs (Andre Fletcher 13, Fazal Niazai 13; Mohammad Nabi 4 for 12, Mirwais Ashraf 2 for 14, Qais Ahmed 3 for 18) by 171 runs.
The Kabul Times