Balkh Legends went top of the table in the inaugural Afghanistan Premier League with an 89-run thumping of Paktia Panthers.
Set a target of 196, Paktia were never in the game except for the opening few overs when skipper Mohammad Shahzad (16) and Rahmanullah Gurbaz (33) provided a decent start. Once they left, a collapsed followed and only two Paktia batsmen were able to breach the double figures.
The collapse was initiated by Aftab Alam, Gulbadin Naib and Mirwais Ashraf, before young prodigy Qais Ahmad and English import Ravi Bopara toppled the Paktia middle-order. Paktia were eventually bowled out for 106 in 15.2 overs. Bopara took three while Alam, Naib and Ahmad shared two wickets each.
Earlier, Balkh Legends rode on Ryan ten Doeschate’s 74* to post 195-4. Chris Gayle failed to kick-off, falling for 12 off 15. Colin Munro hit four boundaries and a six before he became a victim of Sikandar Raza’s stunning caught and bowled. But 18-year-old Darwish Rasooli and ten Doeschate added 81 runs for the third wicket partnership to keep Balkh on track for a big score. Rasooli fell for a qucikfire 28-ball 44 before joined the Dutchman and Essex teammate to add 45 off 28 balls. Bopara fell for 26 but ten Doeschate finished with 74 not out and was also adjudged player of the match for his fine batting performance.