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APLT20 - Hazratullah Zazai's maiden ton in APL sets up Kabul's win

Sreekuttan S
CONTRIBUTOR
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20-year-old Hazratullah Zazai's maiden ton in the Afganistan Premier League helped Kabul Zwanan beat Nangarhar Leopards by seven wickets comfortably chasing a massive target of 189 set by Nangarhar Leopards.

The left-hander brought up his maiden century off just 44 balls. Zazai scored a 55-ball 124-run with nine sixes and twelve boundaries at a strike rate of 225 before Ben Cutting dismissed him in 15th over.

It was one of those matches where the openers put a 100-plus partnership in both the innings. After opting to bowl first, Kabul didn't manage to get any wickets in the powerplay. Leopards openers Devcich and Najeeb Tarakai added 109 runs in just 68 balls for the first wicket. Shahidullah dismissed Tarakai for 42, but that didn't stop Devcich at the other end.

He added 34 runs with Shahidi for the second wicket, maintaining the run rate at the same pace. However, losing Shahidi and Andre Russel in successive overs impacted their plans to go for the big slog in the final overs. Devcich and Ben Cutting could add only 44 runs in the last five overs.

Anything above 200 was possible for Leopards halfway through their innings. However, a couple of quick wickets and losing the power hitter like Andre Rusell for 0 cost them the momentum. Devcich played brilliantly for his 94 off 58 balls with six sixes and seven boundaries which helped them to post a competitive total of 188-5 in 20 overs. Rashid Khan was once again the best bowler for Kabul with a brilliant spell of 4-0-13-1.

Kabul had a stormy start for the chase, adding 97 runs in the powerplay. Zazai raised to fifty off 17 balls and had an opening partnership of 144 in just 69 deliveries. Zazai scored 101 out of those 144 as he punished every bowler from Leopards.

The mystery spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman went for 39 runs in his first two overs which is a rare one in the T20 games. McClenaghan and Cutting gave 20 and 17 runs respectively in their first over.

Ronchi was the first one to depart after playing a sensible supporting role to his partner scoring 26 off 24 balls. Zazai continued with the assault to add another 34 runs for the second wicket of which he scored 23 runs in 10 deliveries. Kabul lost Ingram for just one run, but Javed Ahmadi and Laurie Evan took them over the line in 17.5 overs.

Zazai lost his wicket with 11 runs required to win the game but done enough damage during his stay at the crease. None of the bowlers except Zahir Khan controlled the run flow in Kabul's innings. Zazai, the player of the match, thanked his skipper and coach for showing confidence in him and giving him the liberty to play his natural game.

Kabul has also moved to the second spot in the Afghanistan Premier League points table and will play their next game against Kandahar Knights in the eighth match of APL 2018.

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Sreekuttan S
CONTRIBUTOR
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