The eleventh match of the Afghanistan Premier League (APL) will see Kabul Zwanan lock horns with Nangarhar Leopards at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium. The eagerly awaited encounter will take place on Friday at 21:30 IST.
Interestingly, these two teams have already played against each other in this season. Kabul Zwanan successfully chased down 189 to pull off a clinical triumph against Nangarhar Leopards on Tuesday.
Fresh from smashing Nangarhar's bowlers, all eyes will be on Hazratullah Zazai for a possible encore. He hammered an astonishing 55-ball 124 to delight the faithful Afghan supporters at the stadium. With the familiarity of the bowling attack in his favour, there's a distinct possibility of another power-packed performance from the left-hander.
During that same match, Anton Devcich had put on a wonderful display of stroke-play and finished unbeaten on 94. Expect Rashid Khan to bring himself into the equation much earlier if the Kiwi begins strongly. This battle could potentially decide the fate of the match.
Although he has not registered a significant score thus far, there's always an air of expectation surrounding Luke Ronchi. If he can withstand Mujeeb Ur Rahman's mystery, the wicket-keeper batsman may finally break the shackles.
Laurie Evans has been the surprise package in the APL thus far. Not many would have predicted the unheralded 30-year old from England to make an impact in Asian conditions. Yet, the right-hander has already compiled two top-notch fifties. While the law of averages may catch up to him, he remains a safe bet due to his astute game awareness.
The presence of all-rounders Ben Cutting and Andre Russell lend stability to the fantasy lineup. The Australian, in particular, has been mighty impressive in both departments. Calm leadership skills also make him a reliable option on the team. Meanwhile, the Caribbean juggernaut is looking a bit rusty at the moment. Having tempered expectations from him is a prudent move as he may need a couple more matches to get into the groove.
The spin twins of Afghanistan cricket across all formats are a must in this dream team. While Rashid's reluctance to come up the order sees him lose out on the captaincy to Cutting, Mujeeb will be eager to recover from the pasting in the earlier match against Kabul.
Considering Mitchell McClenaghan's tendency to hone in on the shorter length, Naveen-ul-Haq is a safer seam option to depend on in these sluggish conditions. The 19-year old may be inexperienced but his deceptive change in pace can surprise the Kabul batsmen. Chinaman exponent Zahir Khan, who has been steady in the matches thus far, has the potential to leave a mark if his fielders finally rise to the occasion.
Captaincy Preference Order: Ben Cutting, Rashid Khan, Hazratullah Zazai
Fantasy XI for Kabul Zwanan vs Nangarhar Leopards: Hazratullah Zazai, Anton Devcich, Luke Ronchi (wk), Laurie Evans, Javed Ahmadi, Ben Cutting (c), Andre Russell, Rashid Khan, Naveen-ul-Haq, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Zahir Khan