Mohammad Noor sets up Balkh's victory
Playing in front of a large crowd, Balkh have won the final game in Group A of the Afghanistan domestic 50-over inter-provincial tournament with a 21-run win over Maidan Wardak at the National Youth Cricket Ground in Kabul on Friday.
After being sent in, Balkh began like a team in a hurry, belting 21 runs from the first three overs. However the northerners were unable to pace their innings with sensible shot making and their innings crashed spectacularly from 115 for 1 in 13 overs to 145 for 7 in 25 overs. Mohammad Noor led the Balkh onslaught, top-scoring with 51, the tournament's first half-century.
Persistant Maidan Wardak bowling finally restricted Balkh to 170 all out from 34.4 overs after a much higher total had seemed likely.
The innings of Maidan Wardak, hailing from the province to the immediate east of Kabul, followed a similar story to Balkh's, smashing 27 in their first three overs. Balkh captain Abdullah Mazari took four wickets to instigate a Maidan Wardak crash, losing eight wickets for 128 runs, and eventually to 149 all-out in 42.2 overs.
Twenty wickets were lost in a match typical of Afghan domestic cricket where boundary hitting took priority over building an innings. Afghanistan Cricket Board officials are said to be hoping national team players will influence their less experienced team-mates in this tournament to consolidate and focus on remaining at the crease.