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Panjshir and Khost stayed alive in the Etisalat Afghanistan Domestic 50-over tournament, Afghanistan’s main domestic event, by winning their respective matches at the National Cricket Stadium in Kabul. In two low-scoring affairs, Panjshir beat Helmand by five wickets on Wednesday, while Khost beat Baghlan by 29 runs on Thursday.
There are 24 provinces taking part in the tournament, with teams divided into four groups of six. Each team plays one match in the group stage, with the teams with the highest run-rate from each group progressing to the semi-finals. The tournament continues until June 8 and Afghanistan’s national team players are representing their provinces.
In Wednesday’s game, Panjshir, from the country's north-east, won the toss and put Helmand, from the south, in to bat. The decision to bowl was vindicated as Helmand lost two wickets in the first seven overs before collapsing for 126 all out.
Panjshir, mindful of the importance of run-rates in determining the semi-finalists, raced to their target of 127 in just 19 overs, losing five wickets in the process. The win keeps them in contention for a place in the last four, while Helmand has been eliminated.
In Thursday’s game, Khost's passionate supporters were rewarded when the easterners beat Baghlan by 29 runs. Baghlan, also from the north, won the toss and elected to bowl. Led by Juma Gul, who took five wickets, they knocked Khost over for 133 in 29.2 overs. Shahih Zadran top-scored with 27, while Daoud Zadran chipped in with 23.
However, Baghlan’s batsmen put up little resistance chasing 134, losing their first five wickets for 61 runs, before folding up for 103. Kaleemullah and Saeed Ahmad took three wickets apiece and Amanullah two. Yaqoob top scored for Baghlan with 21. The loss means Baghlan is out of the tournament.
Both matches were telecast live in Afghanistan. On Sunday, Balkh take on Wardag in Group A’s final match.
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