APL 2018: Match 10, Kandahar Knights vs Paktia Panthers, Review- Kandahar Knights slump to their fourth successive defeat

Kandahar now need to win all their remaining four matches to have any chance of making it to the next round.

Paktia Panthers
Paktia Panthers. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Prior to their last match of the inaugural edition of the Afghanistan Premier League (APL), the Kandahar Knights desperately needed to get their campaign going. However, they were up against Paktia Panthers, who made a stupendous comeback after their defeat against Kabul Zwanan in the tournament opener, and the task wasn’t expected to be easy by any stretch of the imagination.

In the end, it was the Panthers, who romped to a victory by nine runs. In their meantime, they compiled third consecutive win in a thriller of a match in Sharjah, which went right down to the last over. On the other hand, the Knights remained winless after slumping to their fourth defeat and now need to win all their remaining four matches to have any chance of making it to the next round.

Raza guides the Panthers

Paktia won the toss and had no hesitation to bat first. The start wasn’t auspicious for them as their skipper Mohammad Shahzad was nipped out in the very first over by Mohammad Naveed. Ihsanullah Janat was the next man to perish as off-spinner Karim Sadiq picked him up in the fourth over. Cameron Delport has been consistent in the event, but even he couldn’t contribute.

Teen sensation Rahmanullah Gurbaz fell prey to Karim Janat. Nevertheless, the 10th over by chinaman bowler Rahmanullah Gurbaz got the Panthers on the mat. The left-armer removed Samiullah Shenwari and Shahid Afridi in a space of three balls and all of a sudden, Shahzad’s men found themselves in a rabbit hole with the score at 69/6 with more than 10 overs left in their innings.

Meanwhile, Sikandar Raza, who came to bat after the fall of Janat’s wicket, put his head down and churned out a gutsy knock of 51 runs from 42 balls with the assistance of five boundaries. He got the required support from Isuru Udana, who notched a priceless 23 at a run-a-ball. Both put together 54 runs for the eighth wicket and guided Paktia to a respectable score of 127 in 18.2 overs.

Kandahar fall short in cliffhanger

Chasing 128 wasn’t expected to be a far cry for Kandahar, however, they huffed and puffed and eventually were bowled out two balls short of their 20 overs. Paul Stirling and Riki Wessels opened the batting and both went back to the hut in the third over and became Isuru Udana’s victim. Brendon McCullum thumped three boundaries and was dismissed by Yamin Ahmadzai.

Skipper Asghar Afghan floundered and the Knights well and truly looked down the barrel of another loss. Left-arm tweaker Sharafuddin Ashraf got rid of Nasir Jamal to pick up the fifth wicket. Afridi removed Karim Sadiq in the 13th over. Najibullah Zadran threatened by finding the boundary quite a few times. Unfortunately for the Knights, Ashraf dismissed him in the 15th over.

Thereafter, it was Karim Janat and Mohammad Naveed’s stand of 34 runs from 27 balls that brought Kandahar back into the contest. In the last over, the Knights required 12 runs and Ahmadzai had the responsibility to defend it. The speedster did his work with precision and conceded two runs in the last over. Janat’s run out in the third ball of the 20th over brought the curtains down on the match.

Brief Scores

Paktia Panthers: 127 all out in 18.2 overs; (Sikandar Raza 51, Isuru Udana 23; Sayed Shirzad 4/19, Waqar Salamkheil 2/19)

Kandahar Knights: 118 all out in 19.4 overs; (Karim Janat 27, Najibullah Zadran 20; Isuru Udana 3/19, Sharafuddin Ashraf 3/31)

Paktia Panthers beat Kandahar Knights by nine runs

Man of the Match: Isuru Udana

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