Chris Gayle Special Knocks Kandahar Knights Out of APL
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Chris Gayle Special Knocks Kandahar Knights Out of APL

A powerful display by Chris Gayle made short work of the Kandahar Knights bowlers and knocked them out 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). With typical authority, Gayle smashed his way to a 22-ball 73 to chase down 142 with ease and power Balkh Legends to a morale-boosting win before the semi-finals.   

Put in to bat, Kandahar Knights were off to a tough start. The openers, Asghar Afghan and Paul Stirling struggled to get going. Asghar has been their in-form batsmen in the tournament and the team hoped he would come good again. By the halfway stage, they had lost four wickets and were on 49.

Brendon McCullum has had a tough tournament with the bat but came good on a day his team needed him the most. His 32-ball fifty brought life to the Kandahar Knights innings and presented hope of a good total. Riki Wessells held one end during his innings of 39 to add stability. This 65-run partnership was crucial in bringing them back into the game. Wessels pushed on after McCullum’s dismissal and Kandahar Knights managed to cross the 140-run mark, although they lost nine wickets along the way.

Considering the fact that it hasn’t been the easiest batting surface during the last two days, Kandahar Knights would have felt they were in with a chance during the innings break. Mirwais Ashraf was the pick of the bowlers for the Balkh Legends with a spell of three for 24.

Kandahar Knights’ hopes were dashed from the outset with Gayle looking in ominous form. During the initial overs, he picked Karim Sadiq for special treatment, smashing him all over, milking 37 off his first two overs. Gayle continued the onslaught to get his fifty off only 16 balls. Colin Munro, the man with the best seat in the house, just knocked it around to hand Gayle the strike and watch the fun.

Gayle was ready to smash anything. The ball flew to all parts of the ground, leaving the Kandahar Knights bowlers with no margin for error. Almost every ball was attacked with great panache and authority. Within the powerplay, Balkh Legends had knocked off 85 runs, with 73 coming off Gayle’s bat. He holed out to long-off soon after but had left Balkh Legends on a path to victory.

Kandahar Knights managed to fight back a touch by taking two more wickets in quick succession but the damage was already done by then. All Ryan ten Doeschate and Ravi Bopara had to do as knock it around with the required rate lesser than a run-a-ball.

Brief scores: Kandahar Knights 141 for nine in 20 overs (Brendon McCullum 50, Riki Wessels 39; Mirwais Ashraf 3 for 24) lost to Balkh Legends 142 for four in 17.5 overs (Chris Gayle 73; Waqar Salamkheil 2 for 21) by six wickets.