2018 Afghanistan Premier League – Balkh Legends vs Nangarhar Leopards Preview

AT A GLANCE

When? Friday 19th October, 17:00 (UK)

Where? Sharjah Cricket Stadium

Weather? 34c and glorious sunshine expected all day

What channel is it on? Balkh Legends vs Nangarhar Leopards will be televised live on FreeSports

Where can I stream the match? Balkh Legends vs Nangarhar Leopards will not be streamed live in the UK

Are tickets still available? https://www.q-tickets.com/apl/eventlist

THE TEAM NEWS

BALKH LEGENDS

Coach: Simon Helmot

Captain: Mohammad Nabi

  • The Balkh Legends finished top of the group stage after winning six of their eight matches and there is little doubt they were the best team in that phase so they go into the knockout rounds as the favourites to lift the inaugural APL trophy.

  • Chris Gayle smashed 73 from 22 balls in the final group game against the Knights and is now the team’s second top runscorer despite playing just five of the eight matches and he is in ominous form coming into the semi-finals.

  • Their bowling unit has really stepped up in recent matches with Bopara forcing his way back into the side ahead of Ben Laughlin with some miserly bowling as he averages just 6.99 while also adding more depth to the batting line-up, and he will keep his place.

NANGARHAR LEOPARDS

Coach: Venkatesh Prasad

Captain: Ben Cutting

  • The Leopards sneaked into the semi-finals by beating the Balkh Legends on Wednesday to take the final play-off place but they will have to notably raise their game if they are to progress to the final against a full-strength Legends team this time around.

  • Andre Russell’s injury has made their team selection easier on the whole as they juggle their overseas stars but they rested Lamichhane last time out to bring in Fletcher as an extra batsman and it paid off, so they will have to make another tough call as to who takes that final overseas spot in this game.

  • After Fletcher’s impressive 48 runs on his debut last time out, he will surely keep his place but that may jeopardise compatriot Johnson Charles’ place as he has yet to really fire with the bat, although they may just decide to load their batting line-up once again and leave Lamichhane out.

THE PREDICTION

The Balkh Legends have been the best team in the tournament so far and there is little reason to suggest they will not reach the final. Nangarhar Leopards scraped into the semi-finals, and while they have a couple of potential matchwinners in Devcich and Cutting, they really need to produce a complete performance to have any chance of toppling the Legends. Even if one or two of their key men do not fire, Balkh Legends have the all-round quality which should ultimately prove too much for the Leopards. This could be close if the Leopards do click into gear, otherwise the Legends could coast into the final.