Qais Ahmed, Chris Gayle star as Balkh Legends win inaugural APL

Afghanistan news

Hit For Six!

Qais Ahmed's 5/18 and Chris Gayle's 34-ball 56 were the defining contributions for Balkh Legends as they chased down Kabul Zwanan's 132/9 with six wickets left to win the inaugural Afghanistan Premier League title.

In the final in Sharjah on Sunday, 21 October, Kabul won the toss and elected to bat, but were struck an early blow by Aftab Alam, who dismissed Luke Ronchi in the second over.

The man who hit six sixes in an over earlier in the tournament, Hazratullah Zazai, was the next go, caught and bowled by Balkh captain Mohammad Nabi and Kabul were 23/2 in the fifth over.

The South African duo of Wayne Parnell (21) and Colin Ingram (21) then got together and added 38 runs for the third wicket to restore some parity to the contest and take their team past the 50-run mark. But both batsmen were dismissed in quick succession as Ravi Bopara had Ingram caught by Mirwais Ashraf and Parnell was bowled by Ahmed.

Kabul were in a fix again at 65/4 in the 11th over, but another partnership, this time between Javed Ahmadi (32) and Laurie Evans (14), took them past 100 and laid a platform for the lower order to attack in the final few overs.

When Evans was dismissed by Ahmed in the 16th over, Kabul were 108/5 and had the likes of Rashid Khan, the captain, waiting, but a collapse at the death meant that they were restricted to a below-par score. Ahmed, the 18-year-old leg-spinner, picked up three of the last four wickets to fall including that of Khan to end with his career-best Twenty20 figures.

Gayle led the Balkh reply with his well-timed half-century even as Parnell sent back Colin Munro for a first-ball duck and No.3 Darwish Rasooli for four in the first over.

Ryan ten Doeschate then added 35 runs for the third wicket with Gayle before Muslim Musa dismissed ten Doeschate for 12. At 37/3 in seven overs, the game was in the balance, but the arrival of Bopara changed things as he and Gayle added 50 runs for the fourth wicket.

Gayle hit four fours and as many sixes before he was sent back by Khan in the 12th over but another 34-run stand between Bopara and wicket-keeper Ikram Ali Khil meant that Balkh maintained their grip on the game.

Although Nabi was dismissed by Parnell (3/35) for six, Bopara (32*) and Gulbadin Naib ensured that the Legends reached their target with 1.5 overs to spare and four wickets in hand. 

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