APL 2018, Match 1, Kabul Zwanan v Paktia Panthers - Review: Laurie Evans mind-boggling innings takes Zwanans home from the verges of a defeat

APL 2018, Match 1, Kabul Zwanan v Paktia Panthers – Review: Laurie Evans mind-boggling innings takes Zwanans home from the verges of a defeat

Despite losing wickets at the other end, Evans kept his cool.

Laurie Evans Kabul
Laurie Evans. (Photo Source: Twitter)

On October 5, 2018, Afghanistan cricket reached another glory in its inspirational journey. The first match of the Afghanistan Premier League (APL) was played on the day. The league aims to unearth the young talent present in the country which would help the country progress further in the sport.

By providing the players with a chance to rub shoulders with some of the finest international cricketers, the Afghanistan Cricket Board has put forward a massive step towards excellence. With Afghanistan already making rapid strides in international cricket, they would hope that the players get the right kind of exposure by playing this league.

In the first game, Rashid Khan‘s Kabul Zwanan’s were up against Mohammad Shahzad’s Paktia Panthers. This game commenced after an eye-feasting opening ceremony. The Panthers put up some great show on display in this game. However, a brilliant effort from Laurie Evans helped the Zwanans win the game by 3 wickets.

Sikandar Raza feasts off the foundation laid by the openers

Rashid Khan won the toss in this encounter and opted to bowl first. But his team, within no time, was stunned by the onslaught from Mohammad Shahzad and Ihsanullah Janat. These two struck the ball cleanly to all the parts of the ground and added 101 runs for the opening wicket in just 9.2 overs. While Shahzad taking over with some fierce strokeplay, Ihsanullah only had to play the anchor. He got out after scoring 27 off 19 balls.

The wicket-keeper batsman struck the first half-century of the tournament. He scored 67 off just 39 balls which included 7 fours and 5 sixes. However, both the openers were dismissed in the 10th over by Zahir Shehzad. Soon, Cameron Delport and Shahid Afridi walked back into the pavilion after scoring 19 and 1 run respectively.

But, Zimbabwean batsman Sikandar Raza kept going from one end. He feasted on the solid foundation laid at the top and was hitting the ball brutally. With an unbeaten 78 off 40 deliveries, he ensured that his team got to 218 runs in 20 overs after losing 4 wickets. Rashid Khan gave away 27 runs in his 4 overs and went wicketless.

Laurie Evans keeps his cool to take the Kabul Zwanan over the line

Chasing this kind of a massive target is never easy. But, Luke Ronchi provided the side with a positive start. However, he walked back to the pavilion after scoring 15 off 8 balls as he was stumped off Sharafuddin Ashraf’s bowling. Soon, Hazratullah Zazai and Javed Ahmadi also queued back to the pavilion after scoring 27 and 25 runs respectively. Being down to 72/3 in the 8th over, the side already seemed to be in severe trouble.

At this point in time, skipper Rashid Khan walked into the middle and swung the game slightly in favour of his side. The leg-spinner scored 24 off just 11 balls to provide life to the innings. But, at the time when he got out, his team still needed 83 off 39 balls with a settled Laurie Evans in the middle.

Despite losing wickets at the other end, Evans kept his cool. He changed the approach of his game at the right time and got out the big shots that were the need of the hour. With an unbeaten and breath-taking 79 off 39 balls, he took Kabul Zwanan home with three wickets remaining to register the first ever win in the APL.

Brief Scores:

Paktia Panthers: 218/4 in 20 overs (Sikandar Raza 78*, Mohammad Shahzad 67, Zahir Shehzad 2/36)

Kabul Zwanan: 220/7 in 19.1 overs (Laurie Evans 79*, Hazratullah Zazai 27, Sharafuddin Ashraf 2/40)

Result: Kabul Zwanan won by 3 wickets