APL 2018, Match 18, Kandahar Knights vs Paktia Panthers Review: Knights just one win away from a semifinal berth

APL 2018, Match 18, Kandahar Knights vs Paktia Panthers Review: Knights just one win away from a semifinal berth

Kandahar registered a last-ball thrilling win against the Panthers to set up a virtual knockout game against the Legends.

Kandahar Knights vs Paktia Panthers
Kandahar Knights vs Paktia Panthers. (Photo Source: Twitter)

After all the turmoil and hard work they went through, the Kandahar Knights finally have a clear path ahead of themselves in the APL 2018. They just have to win their final group game against a very strong opponent in Balkh Legends to knock Nangarhar Leopards out and seal their berth in the playoffs.

Batting first, the Panthers accumulated a few boundaries in the first couple of overs courtesy Mohammad Shahzad, but the skipper fell in the third over pushing his side into trouble. Sayed Shirzad continued his impressive run and picked up another couple of wickets in the 4th over and the scorecard read 43/3 in 4 overs.

Calum MacLeod, who has not been getting a lot of games this season, chipped in with a crucial contribution at this point. He stitched a crucial partnership with the star of the innings Samiullah Shenwari, who brought all his experience into play and registered a brilliant half-century.

Shenwari finished with 43-ball 65 as the Panthers managed to pile up 167 runs for the loss of 7 wickets. Sayed Shirzad registered figures of 3/36 whilst Karim Janat bowled a brilliant and economical spell of 2/18.

Captain Asghar leads the charge

Paul Stirling got off to a similar start like Mohammad Shahzad in the first innings and he too got dismissed abruptly against the run of play. But Asghar Afghan, who has been scoring a lot of runs lately, once again stood up for the side and registered a brilliant knock for the side.

Afghan added a total of 63 runs alongside Brendon McCullum and Nasir Jamal in the next 44 balls, where McCullum scored eight runs and Nasir Jamal scored 5 runs. The skipper was completely in charge and it seemed like the game would be done and dusted well before.

But Samiullah Shenwari came into the attack and got the big fish Afghan, which put some breaks on their innings. Riki Wessels and Najibullah Zadran tried their best to carry the momentum on, but the bowlers kept hitting the right areas and the runs had dried up.

At a very important juncture, Najibullah got a few boundaries and before getting dismissed in the 19th over, he brought the equation down to 11 needed in the final over. Karim Janat and Karim Sadiq hit a boundary each in the final over and the Knights chased the target exactly off the final ball. They now have a better net run rate than Nangarhar, which makes them the favourites to go through.

Brief Scores

Paktia Panthers: 167/7 in 20 overs (Samiullah Shenwari 65, Calum MacLeod 40; Sayed Shirzad 3/36, Karim Janat 2/18)

Kandahar Knights: 168/6 in 20 overs (Asghar Afghan 74, Najibullah Zadran 23; Ziaw Rahman 3/40)

Result: Kandahar Knights won by four wickets

Player of the match: Asghar Afghan