APL Match 14, Balkh Legends vs Kabul Zwanan, Review: Legends defend 245, but not before a scare

APL Match 14, Balkh Legends vs Kabul Zwanan, Review: Legends defend 245, but not before a scare

Over 460 runs were scored in the high-scoring match.

Chris Gayle
Chris Gayle. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Sharjah was the setting for an absolute festival of runs in the inaugural edition of the Afghanistan Premier League, with the big guns finally coming to the party. As Danny Morrison would have probably said, it was very much a Super Sunday in the APL. As many as 467 runs were scored within a span of 3 hours during this game between the Balkh Legends and the Kabul Zwanan. Eventually, it was the Legends who came out on top but not before a real scare.

Table toppers Balkh Legends were virtually guaranteed a semi-final berth even before this game got underway. But they were yet to play to their full potential, especially when it came to their batting. The Balkh Legends’ legendary figure that is Chris Gayle picked this day to announce himself after a string of low scores.

Vintage Gayle was back doing what he does best – depositing the ball into the stands. He smashed 10 sixes en route a 48-ball 80. At the other end, Dilshan Munaweera played a handy inning – his 46 off 25 meant the Legends were cruising at more than 10 per over.

The openers’ departures slowed things down ever so slightly, but Darwish Rasooli and skipper Mohammad Nabi ensured there wasn’t a major break in the run-fest. Nabi struck at over 246 – his brilliant cameo of 37 from 15 meant the Legends were well past 200 in the 19th over. But something bizarre followed – the batting team lost 3 wickets off 3 balls.

This was a team hat-trick if there was ever one. As the scoreboard looked like it would stay put at 229 for 6, Mirwais Ashraf walked in and smashed 2 sixes to launch the Legends into the 240s. At the halfway mark, the Zwanan were staring at a target of 245.

A bizarre end followed by a freakish chase

But pressure was something Rashid Khan’s side didn’t pay heed to. Saying that they got off to a flyer would be an understatement. Hazratullah Zazai took matters into his own hands, decimating the opposition bowling attack. Zazai’s blitzkrieg included 7 sixes and 4 fours, and who knows how much he’d have scored had Ben Laughlin not removed him off the penultimate ball of the powerplay.

That didn’t put a stop to the onslaught though and Luke Ronchi, Shahidullah and Colin Ingram took over the reins in this near-impossible run-chase. They brought the equation down to 66 off 18 deliveries, the required run rate that stared at them was 22. Sixes and fours galore over the following couple of overs meant the Zwanan needed 29 off the final over, and with the way skipper Rashid Khan and Colin Ingram were striking the ball, it looked like it would go Kabul’s way.

However, death-overs specialist Ben Laughlin still had one over up his sleeve. He brought all his experience into play, and not only conceded a mere 7 runs but also removed the threat of Ingram and Rashid in the span of his 6 deliveries. The veteran Aussie saved the day for the Balkh Legends, who now sit pretty at the top of the table with 10 points. But this was almost a T20 version of the famous Australia-South Africa ODI – an impossible run-chase almost made possible. However, an Australian did stand in the way of an inexplicable victory this time.

Brief Scores:

Balkh Legends: 244/6 (20) (Chris Gayle – 80 (48); Fareed Ahmad – 2/48)

Kabul Zwanan: 223/7 (20) (Hazratullah Zazai – 62 (17); Ben Laughlin – 3/37)

Balkh Legends won by 21 runs

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