Sharjah: Chris Gayle smashed his second half-century as the Balkh Legends sealed their semi-finals spot in style with a comprehensive six-wicket win to send the Kandahar Knights out of the Afghanistan Premier League (APL) at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Thursday.
Chasing a little over seven runs an over after restricting the Kandahar Knights to 141 for 9, it was Gayle taking centre-stage for the second time in as many matches with a lusty 73 runs off just 22 deliveries. So lethal was the Jamaican’s carnage that his opening partner Colin Munro was a mere spectator with just 12 runs as Gayle hit five boundaries and eight maximums to realise 85 runs off 6.1 overs.
The Legends’ innings rattled a bit after losing Munro and Darwish Rasooli in quick succession, but the seasoned Ryan ten Doeschate and Ravi Bopara stayed together until the Englishman was caught behind with just three runs needed in as many overs.
Earlier, Brendon McCullum saw his first half-century of the tournament go in vain while helping the Knights to a fighting 141 for 9 in their allotted 20 overs. With runs tough to come by, the Knights scored to a mere 31 for 1 in their first six overs. Samiullah Salarzai claimed two back-to-back wickets to further put the pressure on the Kandahar batsmen.
However, McCullum then teamed up with wicketkeeper Riki Wessels to realise a 65-run partnership as they crossed the 100-run mark by the 16th over. The pair had hardly started accelerating the score when McCullum perished and was soon followed by Wessels as the Kandahar Knights eventually finished at 141 for 9.
Balkh Legends beat Kandahar Knights by six wickets. Kandahar Knights 141 for 9 in 20 overs (Brendon McCullum 50, Riki Wessels 39; Mirwais Ashraf 3 for 24, Samiullah Salarzai 2 for 27) Balkh Legends 142 for 4 in 17.5 overs (Chris Gayle 73, Ryan ten Doeschate 27 not out, Ravi Bopara 22).
Man of the match: Chris Gayle of Balkh Legends.
Friday’s fixture: (8pm) Semi-final 1: Balkh Legends vs Nangarhar Leopards.