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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 17 November 2018

Afghanistan Premier League: Chris Gayle overshadowed as Mohammed Nabi guides Balkh Legends to final

Balkh wait to see who they meet in competition's inaugural final after all-round effort from captain Nabi

Chris Gayle scored another fifty for Balkh Legends, but he was not even the primary match-winner for his APL team. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Chris Gayle scored another fifty for Balkh Legends, but he was not even the primary match-winner for his APL team. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Chris Gayle scored another brilliant half-century, yet his effort was overshadowed by those of his teammates as Balkh Legends crushed Nangarhar Leopards by 171 runs to reach the final of the Afghanistan Premier League late on Friday.

Gayle scored 54 off 30 balls to follow up on the 73 from 22 deliveries he smashed against Kandahar Knights in their previous game. The left-hander crashed two sixes and nine fours in the process. However, fellow opening batsman Darwish Rasooli - 20 years younger to the great West Indian - did even better by scoring 78 off 45 deliveries, including four sixes and seven fours.

They were followed by cameos from Rasooli's Afghanistan teammate Mohammed Nabi (47) and New Zealand's Colin Munro (33) - another great Twenty20 player of our time - as Balkh posted an imposing 235-5 on the board after winning the toss and electing to bat.

6. Mohammed Nabi (Balkh Legends, captain): The thrill of the six hit loses some of its potency when they happen as often as they do in the APL. That said, Nabi’s power is spectacular. One six he hit in a semi-final blitzkrieg ended up in Sharjah football club without bouncing. Chris Whiteoak / The National
6. Mohammed Nabi (Balkh Legends, captain): The thrill of the six hit loses some of its potency when they happen as often as they do in the APL. That said, Nabi’s power is spectacular. One six he hit in a semi-final blitzkrieg ended up in Sharjah football club without bouncing. Chris Whiteoak / The National

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Read more:

Afghanistan Premier League: Balkh Legends' Chris Gayle at brutal best as 'everything felt OK'

Afghanistan Premier League: Youngsters step up in absence of such stars as Chris Gayle

UAE fast bowler Mohammed Naveed can't wait to take on Hazratullah Zazai in APL again

The Cricket Pod: How the Abu Dhabi T20 and Afghanistan Premier League can grow

Paul Radley: Signs of promise for Afghanistan Premier League despite slow start

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As it turns out though, Rasooli's fifty would itself have sufficed and the Legends would have won the game even if none of their other batsmen had scored, because Nangarhar were shot out for just 64.

It was that man Nabi again, as the captain opened the bowling and took 4-12 with his off-breaks. He dismissed two West Indian players, the in-form Andre Fletcher (14) and Johnson Charles (4), before accounting for the wickets of fellow Afghans Hashmatullah Shahidi (2) and Zahir Khan (0).

For his all-round performance, Nabi was named man of the match, and his side will now wait to see who their opponents in Sunday's summit clash will be.

Kabul Zwanan take on Paktia Panthers in the second semi-final at 8pm on Saturday.

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