Kabul Zwanan beat Paktia Panthers to enter APL T20 2018 final

Rashid Khan’s all-round performance set the platform for Kabul Zwanan to dominate proceedings

Kabul Zwanan beat the Paktia Panthers by 90 runs to enter the final of the Gulbahar Afghanistan Premier League (APL) T20, powered by Fogg, invested and promoted by Snixer Sports in association with the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB). Rashid Khan’s all-round performance set the platform for the Kabul Zwanan victory and they will now face Balkh Legends for the trophy tomorrow.

Kabul Zwanan’s innings was action-packed as wickets fell at regular intervals, but it did not stop their batsmen from playing the big shots. The openers got them off to a quick start but failed to convert it to a big one. Wayne Parnell walked in at No. 3 following his performance in the previous game, but fell early.

Colin Ingram was the top-scorer of the innings with 44, as he maintained the momentum even after wickets fell around him. It only showed the true nature of the surface, that has provided a lot of runs for the batsmen. At 125 for six in the 15th over, Kabul Zwanan were in danger of getting an under-par score. That is when Rashid joined Laurie Evans and brought them back into the game.

Evans delivered yet again with a well-paced 31, but it was Rashid who provided the impetus at the end. Once Evans fell, Rashid had to bat with the tail and managed to pick three sixes off the last over bowled by Isuru Udana, the best bowler of the tournament. This helped Kabul Zwanan move to a strong 192. Runs on the board are always handy in big games.

Paktia Panthers were largely good in the field, having taken a few good catches. However, some of their bowlers were expensive inspite of taking wickets. Udana too two but conceded 57 in his four overs. The veteran Shahid Afridi’s two for 25 was the best effort.

A lot depended on Mohammad Shahzad in the run-chase and Paktia Panthers had to bear the disappointment of losing him early. Having faced some injury issues, Shahzad attacked Parnell in the first over but only managed to find Ingram at deep mid-wicket. That was a huge scalp for Kabul Zwanan!

Camron Delport threatened to turn the momentum with a few brief hits before it was dismissed. Then, Rashid came on and struck with his first two balls. Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Samiullah Shenwari were trapped in front. Afridi played and missed the hat-trick ball. Thereafter, the batting order only delayed the inevitable. Afridi did provide some entertainment during a typical 27 but that wasn’t going to threaten Kabul Zwanan’s dominance. One of the highlights on the field was Rashid’s diving effort at long-on to take a very difficult catch. He then took the ball to finish the game. It was his day and he couldn’t be kept out of the game!

Both semi-finals have been largely one-sided affairs. With two strong teams in the final, one hopes for an evenly contested game, worthy of the occasion.

Brief scores: Kabul Zwanan 192 for nine in 20 overs (Colin Ingram 44, Laurie Evans 31, Rashid Khan 35 not out; Isuru Udana 2 for 57, Zia-ur-Rehman 2 for 35, Shahid Afridi 2 for 25) beat Paktia Panthers 102 all out in 14.5 overs (Shahid Afridi 27; Rashid Khan 4 for 20, Muslim Musa 2 for 14) by 90 runs.