The Balkh Legends laid their hands on the maiden Gulbahar Afghanistan Premier (APL) League beating Kabul Zwanan by four wickets at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on October 21 (Sunday).
Meanwhile, Qais Ahmed’s five-wicket haul backed Chris Gayle’s half-century saw the Legends cruise to victory with ease. The scheduling, where Zwanan had to play the semifinal late on Saturday night and then the final, told in the end as they looked under-cooked on the night. Kabul Zwanan spluttered to 132 for nine, a total well under par and too little to cause any alarms for the well-rested Balkh Legends.
However, Zwanan made thing interesting as Wayne Parnell removed opener Colin Munro and young Darwish Rasooli early. Although wickets kept falling at regular intervals, the Legends knocked off the score with 11 balls to spare.
Gayle made use of the two reprieves when on 10 and 37, to score 56 from 34 deliveries with four boundaries and an equal number of sixes. He got valuable support from veteran all-rounder Ravi Bopara, who was unbeaten on 32 runs to see the team through.
Previously, it was a fantastic bowling performance by the Balkh Legends with Qais leading the way. His five wickets floored Kabul Zwanan while the others also chipped in with useful supports. Pacer Aftab Alam and Mirwais Ashraf bowled tight overs to give a solid start.
The Rashid Khan-led side had no answer to the swashbuckling show as they had an average show with the bat throughout the tournament. The batters failed to convert the starts with only Javed Ahmadi only showing some resistance with his 19-ball 32.
However, it was Qais Ahmed, who single-handedly demolished the Kabul Zwanan batting line-up. It was Qais’ best bowling figures in T20s with his five for 18 eclipsing the three for 15. It was the best bowling figures of the tournament and the second five-wicket haul of the tournament after Ben Cutting’s five for 28 against the Kandahar Knights
Balkh Legends’ Qais Ahmed also sits third on the most wicket-takers list with 15 from nine fixtures. Sri Lankan left-arm pacer Isuru Udana tops the list with 17 wickets from eight matches, while Kandahar Knights left-arm pacer Sayed Shirzad is second with 16 wickets.
Kabul Zwanan: 132 for 9 in 20 overs (Javed Ahmadi 32, Colin Ingram 21, Wayne Parnell 21, Qais Ahmed 5-18) lost to Balkh Legends: 138 for 6 in 18.1 overs (Chris Gayle 56, Ravi Bopara 32 not out, Wayne Parnell 3-35) by four wickets.