APL 2018, Match 12, Balkh Legends vs Paktia Panthers Preview: Sharjah prepares for a pulsating weekend encounter

APL 2018, Match 12, Balkh Legends vs Paktia Panthers Preview: Sharjah prepares for a pulsating weekend encounter

This game will certainly go down the wire as there's not a lot of difference when it comes to the quality on paper.

Isuru Udana
Isuru Udana. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Of all the cricket we’ve seen thus far in the Afghanistan Premier League (APL), Kabul Zwanan, Balkh Legends and the Paktia Panthers have played the most attractive brand of cricket. Of these three, two sides, the Panthers and the Legends, will be up against each other for a very interesting tussle on a sizzling hot Saturday evening in Dubai.

Considering how things have panned out thus far, it’d be next to impossible for both these sides not to make it to the top four of a tournament where there are only five sides. But the main objective for them will be to finish in the first two positions and get into the knockout phases with some momentum.

This game will certainly go down the wire as there’s not a lot of difference when it comes to the quality on paper. The legends though have a couple of players like Chris Gayle and Colin Munro, who can whack the game away in no time if they get going, which gives them a certain edge.

Playing combinations

Balkh Legends

Gayle and Usman Ghani will kick-start the innings for the Legends with the Kiwi Munro coming in at three. Ryan ten Doeschate and Ravi Bopara’s presence in the middle alongside skipper Mohammad Nabi sums up for so much of experience which will come in handy. Aftab Alam and Mirwais Ashraf have chipped in with great spells and would be eager to continue the good work. Naib and Bopara are the other bowling options alongside himself for Nabi.

Predicted XI: Chris Gayle, Usman Ghani, Colin Munro, Ryan ten Doeschate, Ravi Bopara, Ikram Ali Khil (wk), Mohammad Nabi (C), Gulbadin Naib, Mirwais Ashraf, Qais Ahmed, Aftab Alam

Paktia Panthers

The very exuberant Shahzad and Ihsanullah Janat have been a great source of dash and dare thus far and nothing less is expected in the upcoming games. Sikandar Raza, Samullah Shenwari and Cameron Delport will be forming the middle order for the Panthers. Ziaw Rahman, Yamin Ahmadzai, Sharafuddin Ashraf will be assisting Isuru Udana, who has been one of the best bowlers in the tournament.

Predicted XI: Mohammad Shahzad (C & wk), Ihsanullah Janat, Cameron Delport, Samiullah Shenwari, Sikandar Raza, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Shahid Afridi, Sharafuddin Ashraf, Isuru Udana, Yamin Ahmadzai, Ziaw Rahman

Focus will be on

Ryan ten Doeschate (Balkh Legends)

Pretty nonchalantly, Ryan ten Doeschate is leaving a brilliant mark on the APL. He already has chipped in with some important knocks for the side and the Dutchman is not someone who will let his energy levels dip. His unique blend of calmness and outstanding exuberance makes him a pretty special player, but thus far, his contributions have slightly gone unnoticed.

Isuru Udana (Paktia Panthers)

This APL can be an absolute game-changer for the Lankan pacer Isuru Udana, who is showing great composure whilst bowling the crucial overs. He has been Shahzad’s go-to man and will continue to be so in the tournament. It will be interesting to see if his exploits can help him revamp his International career.

Stat Attack

9 – With nine wickets to his name already, Isuru Udana is second on the list of most wickets this tournament.

22 – If Chris Gayle faces 22 more balls, he’ll become the first cricketer in T20 history to face 8,000 balls in a career.

Broadcast Details

TV – D Sport

Match Timings: 17:30 IST; 16:00 local

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