Asghar Afghan of Kabul Zwanan takes the aerial route during his half century against Kandahar Knights. Image Credit: Twitter

Sharjah: Kabul Zwanan assumed temporary leadership of the standings leaving the Kandahar Knights winless after three matches in the inaugural Afghanistan Premier League (APL) at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium, late on Thursday.

Going winless in two straight games, the Knights seemed to be headed towards their first points following a timely 60-run partnership between wicketkeeper Rikki Wessels and Nasir Jamal while chasing 174 for victory.

But once Jamal departed with his team needing 20 from the last two overs it looked a tough ask as they fell short by a mere two runs as they reached 171 for seven in their allotted 20 overs. Needing 15 off the final over sent down by Fareed Ahmad, Wessels and Mohammad Naveed could manage just 12 leaving Kabul with full points and the top perch.

Having played four of their eight group matches, Kabul now have six points and a much better run-rate to claim the top position in the five-team competition that goes on until October 21. Kandahar, though playing one match less, are still to get off the mark after losing all three games so far.

The Kabul innings was built around a fine 29-ball 57 runs from Englishman Laurie Evans, while Shahidullah Kamal (33) and Javed Ahmadi (39) came up with handy cameos to help reach a daunting 173 for 6 in their allotted 20 overs.

Evans was the mainstay with a couple of fruitful partnerships — first with Ahmadi realising a quick 45 runs off 26 balls, while the second one more telling with 58 runs off 32 deliveries alongside Kamal. Evans went on to make an unconquered 57 that contained a couple of boundaries and four sixes.

Sayed Shirzad was the pick of the Kandahar Knights bowlers taking three for 36 in his four overs, while Karim Janat chipped in with two for 45.

The Kandahar chase, like in the previous couple of occasions, lacked enthusiasm as none of their main batsmen managed to get their eye in. At 81 for four by the 10th over, the Knights remained well within the asking rate, but kept on losing wickets barring skipper Asghar Afghan who went on to hold the innings together with his first half-century with a 32-ball, 52. But once the Kandahar captain was clean bowled from a slower Muslim Musa delivery leaving his side at 87 for five and needing 87 from 48 deliveries, the writing was on the wall.

Brief Scores

Kabul Zwanan def. Kandahar Knights by 2 runs: Kabul Zwanan 173 for 6 in 20 overs (Javed Ahmadi 39, Laurie Evans 57 not out, Shahidullah Kamal 33; Sayed Shirzad 3 for 36, Karim Janat 2 for 45) Kandahar Knights 171 for 7 (Asghar Afghan 52, Nasir Jamal 38; Shahidullah Kamal 2 for 18, Wayne Parnell 2 for 34, Muslim Musa 2 for 27). Man of the Match: Shahidullah

Friday’s Fixtures: (4pm) Paktia Panthers vs Kandahar Knights; (8pm) Kabul Zwanan vs Nangarhar Leopards