Afghanistan Premier League Betting: Calm to be restored after frenetic opening night

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Ed Hawkins takes a look at Saturday's games after an extraordinary start to the tournament

"The Legends will be skippered by Mohammad Nabi, a terrific performer who is not far behind Rashid in terms of importance to the national team"

The Afghanistan Premier League is underway. How about that? For all the whingeing and the waspish worries (some legit) about the future of the grand old stager, Test cricket, it is rather something that a war-ravaged country has been given a lease of life thanks to the shorter form.

If there is a man responsible for restoring pride to Afghanistan, it is not a warlord or a Washington hawk but a humble spin bowler. Rashid Khan, the finest T20 bowler in the world and the No.1 ODI all-rounder in the world, is the icon player for the Kabul franchise.

Rashid was lauded as a deity when his Zwana team took on Paktia Royals in the opener in Sharjah. There was no man of the match award. No top-bat honours. Hell, he even disappointed with the ball failing to take a wicket.

But it was a bonkers night all round. Remember the toss bias? It's 62 per cent bias in favour of the chaser at Sharjah but 70 per cent against the chaser if they're after 160 or more. Well, Kabul chased 219 with five balls remaining.

Perhaps the excitement got to them all. Today, we expect the status quo to hold when Kandahar Kings take on Nangarhar Leopards and Zwanan are in action against against Balkh Legends.

The Legends will be skippered by Mohammad Nabi, a terrific performer who is not far behind Rashid in terms of importance to the national team. Chris Gayle is their star player but in keeping with tradition when he's involved, we expect them to be all show no dough. They can bat but they could struggle to keep runs down.

Likewise any franchise with Brendon McCullum. Kandahar have picked him up and with Sam Billings and Kevin O'Brien also involved they look big on brawn but low on brain for when those spinners come on.

Nangarhar, boasting Andre Russel, will expect to go deep and they could well be the best-balanced team in the tournament. As for Paktia, the signings of Shahid Afridi suggests they're more interested in short sales than wins.

Kabul

Rashid Khan, Luke Ronchi, Hazrat Zazai, Colin Ingram, Farid Malik, Javed Ahmadi, Sohail Tanveer, Laurie Evans, Wayne Parnell, Shahidullah Kamal, Muslim Musa, Afsar Zazai, Mohammad Asghar Hotak, Zahir Shirzad, Shawkat Zaman

Balkh

Chris Gayle, Colin Munro, Mohammad Nabi, Ravi Bopara, Aftab Alam, Gulbadin Naib, Mohammad Irfan, Ben Laughlin, Kamran Akmal, Qais Ahmad, Usman Ghani, Ikram Ali Khil, Ryan ten Doeschate, Tariq Stanikzai, Fitratullah Khawry, Samiullah Salarzai, Farhan Zakhil

Paktia

Shahid Afridi, Thisara Perera, Mohammad Shahzad, Cameron Delport, Samiullah Shenwari, Chris Jordan, Faheem Ashraf, Luke Wright, Azmatullah Omarzai, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Zia ur Rahman, Calum MacLeod, Tahir Adil, Fazal Zazai, Zia ur Rahman Morkel

Nangarhar

Andre Russel, Tamim Iqbal, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Ben Cutting, Shafiqullah Shafaq, Najib Tarakai, Mitchell McClenaghan, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mohammad Hafeez, Rahmat Shah, Naveen ul Haq, Zahir Khan, Sandeep Lamichhane, Fazal Haq, Nasrat Qureshi, Khaybar Omar

Kandahar

Brendon McCullum, Wahab Riaz, Asghar Stanikzai, Paul Sterling, Kevin O'Brien, Najibullah Zadran, Sharafuddin Ashraf, Karim Janat, Tymal Mills, Sam Billings, Iftikhar Ahmad, Hamza Hotak, Karim Sadiq, Sayed Shirzad, Mohammad Naveed, Waqar Salamkhel, Abdul Baqi, Waqarullah Ishaq

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