With just three matches left at their disposal, time is quickly running out for Kandahar Knights in the race for securing the last semi-final spot. Consequently, the next contest against Kabul Zwanan is extremely crucial for the team which registered their maiden victory in the APL on Saturday.
Kandahar take on Kabul at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Tuesday at 21:30 IST. The previous encounter between these two teams produced a thriller as Zwanan emerged triumphant by the slender margin of two runs. Another riveting tussle could be in the offing.
Unarguably, Hazratullah Zazai has been the standout performer in the inaugural APL season. The belligerent opener smashed a scintillating 124 against Nangarhar Leopards and went on to hammer six sixes in an over during the match against Balkh Legends. What does the in-form southpaw have in store for us this time around?
Drawing upon his vast experience in the game, Luke Ronchi has been consistently shaping substantial opening partnerships with Zazai. Meanwhile, his former New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum has struggled to come to terms with the sluggish conditions on offer. However, his proven ability to force the pace can surge to the fore anytime.
After beginning the season with three fifty-plus scores in four matches, Laurie Evans could not quite get going during the last two games. But his steady presence in the middle-order should augur well for Kabul. The hard-hitting Shahidullah Kamal has the potential to turn the game on its head by clearing the boundary effortlessly.
With just four wickets from six matches, Rashid Khan has been a massive disappointment in the season thus far. Even as quite a few of his compatriots are delivering the goods on these slowing tracks, the star leg-spinner is not able to make any sort of impact. Maybe, the business stages of the tournament should wake him from the unexpected lull.
Karim Janat's sparkling knock as well as stifling spell immensely helped Kandahar to break their winless streak. In the same match, UAE pacer Mohammad Naveed picked vital wickets. With momentum now on their side, another match-winning effort from the duo cannot be ruled out.
Between them, Sayed Shirzad and Waqar Salamkheil have accounted for 17 wickets from around 34 overs. While the former concedes just 7.03 runs per over, the latter's economy-rate of 6.46 is among the best in the season. The two left-arm medium pacers can be relied upon to maintain their impressive form for the Knights.
Captaincy Preference Order: Hazratullah Zazai, Rashid Khan, Sayed Shirzad
Fantasy XI for Kabul Zwanan vs Kandahar Knights: Hazratullah Zazai (c), Luke Ronchi (wk), Brendon McCullum, Laurie Evans, Shahidullah Kamal, Riki Wessels, Karim Janat, Rashid Khan, Mohammad Naveed, Sayed Shirzad and Waqar Salamkheil