Kabul Zwanan Pips Paktia Panthers in a Mountain Chase
As expected, Afghanistan Premier League got off to a flying start with the opening match of first-ever Afghanistan’s T20 league producing a thriller, not for the faint-hearted. In was a pendulum of over the course of 39 overs, Rashid Khan led Kabul Zwanan came on top beating Paktia Panthers by 3 wickets with 3 balls to spare.
Laurie Evans, the not-so-popular Englishman till today, was the star of the night taking his side home in was a classy, blistering as well as responsible 39-ball 79-run knock that included 5 fours and 6 maximum and was rightly adjudged Man of the Match.
After the opening ceremony fireworks and a slew of performances by artists who set the stage on fire, Kabul won the toss and elected to bat first on a run-belter field. Led by Skipper Mohammad Shahzad’s 39-ball 67 and Sikandar Raza’s unbeaten 40-ball 78 runs Paktia was able to pile up a huge total of 218 for 4 in their quota of 20 overs. Rashid Khan was the most economical going for 27 in his fours but was unable to take a wicket. All the other bowlers bear the brunt of some explosive batting from Paktia.
In the chase, Kabul’s top order got off to a flying start but kept losing wickets, until Laurie came to the crease and held one fort together to steer the ship home, with down the order explosions from Rashid Khan and Muslim Musa helping the cause and keeping the required rate under check. The start Pakistani Shahid Afridi failed to impress in his APL debut with both bat and ball. He scored a solitary run facing five balls, while his bowling spell, the stronger of his gist, could not check the run flow of the Kabul ending with forgettable figures of none for 55 in his 4 overs.