APL 2018: Mohammad Shahzad, Shahid Afridi help Paktia Panthers down Kabul Zwanan
Mohammad Shahzad drove Paktia Panthers' chase with a 32-ball fifty. (Credit: APL T20)

The last league match of the Afghanistan Premier League (APL) in Sharjah ended with Paktia Panthers beating Kabul Zwanan by six wickets in a dress rehearsal for Sunday’s semi-final. The two teams will meet in two days to fight for a spot in the final, and it was Panthers who secured second place on the points table. Mohammad Shahzad’s 37-ball 62 outdid Colin Ingram’s unbeaten 83 on the day, helping Panthers chase a target of 169 with six wickets and two balls remaining – with some timely assistance from the vastly experienced Shahid Afridi.

Ingram, leading Kabul in place of the rested Rashid Khan, belted nine fours and four sixes in his 51-ball innings to power his team to 168/4 in 20 overs, with Wayne Parnell hitting 42 from 28 balls from the one-down spot after the openers Luke Ronchi and Hazratullah Zazai fell in the first over to Sri Lanka’s Isuru Udana.

The South African pair of Ingram and Parnell put on 70 in good time before Tahir Khan had Parnell caught by Udana, having smashed three fours and three sixes. Ingram opened up at the death, with Shawkat Zaman (25) offering some assistance. Udana finished with 2/33 from his four overs.

Shahzad powered Panthers’ chase with a typically robust innings that featured eight fours and three sixes, which came after his opening partner Ihsanullah Janat retired due to injury. With Scottish import Calum MacLeod (35) Shahzad battered the Kabul bowling and sped to his half-century in 32 balls in the ninth over. He was finally dismissed in the 11th over, trying to swing Parnell over midwicket but being held superbly by a leaping Zazai just inside the boundary.

The loss of McLeod and Seekkuge Prasanna briefly slowed Panthers, but Samiullah Shenwari (27) and Afridi (30*) finished the job with timely boundaries. Panthers will take some confidence from Afridi’s 19-ball innings headed into the semi-final.

Brief scores: Paktia Panthers 172/4 in 19.4 overs (Shahzad 62, MacLeod 35, Afridi 30*) beat Kabul Zwanan 168/4 in 20 overs (Ingram 83*, Parnell 42) by six wickets.