Sharjah: Rashid Khan scored a fiery, unbeaten eight-ball 27 runs to lead his Kabul Zwanan to an emphatic four-wicket win to leave the Kandakar Knights’ fate hanging by a thread in the Afghanistan Premier League (APL) at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium late on Tuesday.
Needing 153 for a win to become the third team in the semi-finals, the Kabul Zwanan skipper smashed two boundaries and three huge sixes to help his team reach 153 for 6 with five deliveries to spare. The result leaves the Kandahar Knights on two points and a do-or-die match against the Paktia Panthers late on Wednesday.
A win will ensure the Kandahar Knights a spot in the semi-finals, provided the Venkatesh Prased-led Nangarhar Leopards fall against table toppers and the already-qualified Balkh Legends earlier in the evening. The Paktia Panthers are second in the standings with eight points alongside Kabul Zwanan.
Led by Ben Cutting, the Nanganhar Leopards have four points and an inferior net run-rate of -0.789. So a win for the Kandahar Knights against the already-qualified Paktia Panthers will see the Asghar Afghan-led team sneak into the last four ahead of the Leopards and have a better net run-rate.
Earlier, the Kandahar Knights innings was built around skipper Asghar Afghan’s 31-ball 60 runs containing four boundaries and six uge sixes. Nasir Jamal weighed in with a run-a-ball 28, while Najibullah Zadran came up with a late 25-run flourish to take the Knights to a challenging 15 for 5 in their allotted 20 overs.
However, Kabul Zwanan launched the perfect response with New Zealand’s Luke Ronchi smashing 31 runs off just 14 balls, while is 20-year-old opening partner Hazratullah Zazai chipped in with 16 off only 12 deliveries to give the chase just the right platform. The ever-reliable Laurie Evans played out an unbeaten32 runs off 31 balls as his captain and man of the match Rashid Khan came in and made the chase look easy while crossing the line with five deliveries left.
Kabul Zwanan def. Kandahar Knights by four wickets: Kandahar Knights 152 for 5 in 20 overs (Asghar Afghan 60, Nasir Jamal 28, Najibullah Zadran 25; Fareed Ahmad 2 for 40) Kabul Zwanan 153 for 6 in 19.1 overs (Luke Ronchi 31, Hazratullah Zazai 16, Laurie Evans 32 not out, Rashid Khan 27 not out; Karim Janat 3 for 14). Man of the Match: Rashid Khan of Kabul Zwanan.
Wednesday’s fixtures: (4pm) Balkh Legends vs Nangarhar Leopards; (8pm) KandaharKnights vs Paktia Panthers.