Balkh Legends Crush Nangarhar Leopards to Storm into Finals
A special performance on a big stage from skipper Mohammad Nabi saw Balkh Legends register the second largest margin of victory in T20 cricket with 172 runs win. For a semi-final, this was not a match of a close contest but for Balkh spectators, this was sort of a delight they would have loved to witness. We hope that the second semi-final will be more competitive.
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 from an attacking inning 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.
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.
During the defence, Nabi followed up his cameo with the bat removing three in his first spell, eventually ending up with an impressive figure of 4 for 12. Chasing a big total, Nangarhar needed a something special from their batsmen, especially the in-form openers, Fletcher and Devcich. But it was a sorry tale for them throughout the night. None of the players could get a going and only three of their batsmen scored in doubles. They kept losing wickets at regular intervals, eventually bundling out for 64 in 14th over. Qais Ahmad and Mirwais Ashraf chipped in with 3 and 2 wickets, respectively.
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.