The Afghanistan Premier League is set to begin it's maiden journey in UAE and Kabul Zaman are set to be in action against Paktia Panthers in the inaugural fixture of the APL 2018 at Sharjah Cricket Association Stadium in Sharjah on Friday, October 5.
Kabul Zwanan will be led by the dynamic Rashid Khan whose bowling wizardry is no secret. Kabul will also be his first T20 assignment as a captain.
His previous assignment as a Skipper was at ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2018, when he was named as Afghanistan's interim Skipper in the absence of Asghar Stanikzai.
It was not a good start for the youngster as a skipper with Afghanistan as the team went on to the brink of elimination in the first round.
But the newly appointed Skipper has featured in a lot of T20 leagues around the world and it will be interesting to see how he uses his experience to guide his team.
Kabul Zwanan will bank on the likes of Luke Ronchi, Hazratullah Zazai and Colin Ingram. Ronchi has done well for New Zealand in white-ball cricket over the years and he has an impressive strike-rate of 140 in T20Is.
Ingram had an excellent T20 season in England and was among leading run scorers of the league with 430 runs in 11 matches.
While Hazratullah scored 156 runs collectively in the two T20Is against Ireland in August and these two will bear the responsibility to get the team off to a good score.
When it comes to bowling, the team will rely heavily on the services of Rashid Khan and Wayne Parnell.
The former is the number one bowler in the twenty-over format and he is expected to lead from the front.
While Parnell with 41 T20I wickets has plenty of experience playing for South Africa and the team will want him to pick some wickets upfront.
Expected Playing XI: Rashid Khan (C), Wayne Parnell, Ali Khan, Zamir Khan, Muslim Musa, Luke Ronchi, Hazratullah Zazai, Colin Ingram, Laurie Evans, Javed Ahmadi and Farid Malik.
Paktia Panthers will be skippered by Afghanistan's wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Shahzad whose entertaining style always raise eyebrows of opponents.
But unlike Rashid, he has no prior experience in captaincy which will make him even more unpredictable for others and it will be interesting to see whether Shahzad follows his idol MS Dhoni in captaincy tactics or invent his own style.
The Panthers have plenty of depth in their batting with the likes Luke Wright, Mohammad Shahzad, Ihnsanullah Zanat and Cameron Delport in their ranks.
Luke Wright had an impressive T20 Blast. The English batsman was among top 10 batsmen of 2018 season with 452 runs and he will look to bring that form into the APL 2018.
Shahzad blasted a quickfire 124 versus India in the final of the recently concluded Asia Cup and he could give Paktia Panthers a brisk start with his attacking game. Delport has a vast experience of playing for T20 franchises around the world and the format suits his style of batting.
While Inhsanullah Zanat has the ability to score big shots which he showcased in recent series against Bangladesh.
Shahid Afridi, Thisara Perera and Chris Jordan will be the go-to bowlers for the Panthers. Afridi may have retired from international cricket but he is still a very effective bowler, especially in conditions like these.
Perera has a knack of providing breakthroughs at crucial moments. While all-rounder skills and experience of Perera and Afridi might prove crucial at tidy situations.
Expected Playing XI: Mohammad Shahzad (c/wk), Luke Wright, Samiullah Shinwari, Inhsanullah Janat, Cameron Delport, Calum Macleod, Shahid Afridi, Chris Jordan, Thisara Perera, Sharafuddin Ashraf and Yousaf Zazai.Published 04 Oct 2018, 22:07 IST