Kabul Zwanan, Hazratullah Zazai’s 12-ball fifty grabbed all the attention
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Kabul Zwanan, Hazratullah Zazai’s 12-ball fifty grabbed all the attention

In a game that saw the fielders helplessly watch the ball sail over the ropes, the Balkh Legends beat the Kabul Zwanan by 21 runs in the Gulbahar Afghanistan Premier League (APL) T20, powered by Fogg, invested and promoted by Snixer Sports in association with the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB). Gayle’s aggressive 80 propelled Balkh Legends to a formidable 244 and in response, Hazratullah Zazai’s 12-ball fifty, featuring six sixes off an over, threatened to overhaul it.

It’s not often a typically aggressive Gayle inning of 80 gets overshadowed by another fifty, particularly coming from the losing side. However, that was the power of the Hazratullah innings. During the fourth over of the run-chase, he attacked Abdullah Mazai, smashing six sixes in the over to become the fifth batsman to do so in representative cricket. To add to Abdullah’s misery, one of the deliveries was a wide — which meant he conceded 36 in the over. In the process Hazratullah got his fifty in 12 balls, making it the joint-fastest in T20 cricket half century along with Yuvraj Singh and Gayle.

By the time Hazratullah was dismissed for 62 in the sixth over, Kabul Zwanan had made 86. Luke Ronchi was in good form and promised to continue the charge, guiding the innings through the tall chase. However, Ben Laughlin, Mirwais Ashraf and Qais Ahmed managed to bowl a few tight overs to shift the momentum to Balkh Legends’ side. A target of 245 was always going to be challenging even after Hazratullah’s start and although Shahidullah managed a 20-ball 40, the required rate kept mounting. Thereafter, it was only catch-up with the target going farther and farther away.

The Balkh Legends innings featured 23 sixes — 10 of them coming off Gayle’s bat. There was a change in the opening combination for them with the Sri Lankan Dilshan Munaweera starting things with Gayle. In nine overs, they scored 93, with Munaweera being the more attacking of the two smashing 46 off 25 balls before holing out to cover.

By then, Gayle had hit 40 off 34 balls. Although he had cleared the boundary a few times, his approach was relatively measured with Munaweera attacking at the other end. However, the dismissal of his partner made him unleash his wrath on the bowlers. Off his next 14 balls, he smashed another 40 runs — which included four sixes and a four off an expensive Colin Ingram-over. Gayle’s innings reached an anti-climatic end when Darwish Rasooli smashed one back to the bowler Muslim Musa, who tried to evade the ball but it went onto the stumps at the non-striker’s end off his boot. Gayle was short of the crease.

Rasooli continued the charge with a 27-ball fifty with five sixes. Mohammad Nabi also smashed a quickfire 37. Some late striking pushed their score 244 for six.  

Brief scores: Balkh Legends 244 for six in 20 overs (Chris Gayle 80, Dilshan Munaweera 46, Darwish Rasooli 50, Mohammad Nabi 37; Fareed Ahmad 2 for 48) beat Kabul Zwanan  223 for seven in 20 overs (Hazratullah Zazai 62, Luke Ronchi 47, Shahidullah 40; Mohammad Nabi 1 for 27, Ben Laughlin 3 for 36, Qais Ahmed 1 for 27) by 21 runs.