Shpageeza Premier League – Tournament Summary

Shpageeza Premier League is a local Twenty20 tournament conducted by the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) every year.  The tournament was scheduled between 6th September 2020 to 16th September 2020 this year. All the 19 matches including the Qualifiers and finals were played at Kabul international stadium owing to the pandemic situation. The league was preponed by a week after its schedule clashed with the Indian Premier League 2020.  

Star Afghan players Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rehman, and Mohammed Nabi missed the tournament entirely this year owing to their participation in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) and Indian Premier League (IPL). Three players Naveen-Ul-Haq, Zakir Khan, and Najibullah Zadran missed a part of the tournament as they were not available till September due to CPL duties. 

Shpageeza Premier League was started in the year 2013 by the ACB with five teams representing the five different regions of Afghanistan. Later, Kabul Eagles were the sixth team added to the league in 2015. Six teams participated in the tournament from 2015. 

Total Matches – 19

Won by batting first: 9

Won by Chasing side: 10

Champions: Kabul Eagles 

Runners-up: Mis Anaik Knights

Most number of wins: 6 matches (Kabul Eagles) 

Least number of wins: Nil (Amo Sharks)

Highest Total: 232/3 (Band-e-Amir Dragons vs. Boost Defenders)

Lowest Total: 62/10 (Amo Sharks vs. Mis Anaik Knights)

Highest Successful chase: 209/6 (Kabul Eagles vs. Mis Anaik Knights)

Lowest Score defended: 139/10 (Kabul Eagles vs. Mis Anaik Knights)

Individual records:

Highest run-scorer: Usman Ghani – 355 runs (Band-e-Amir Dragons)

Highest wicket-taker: Waqar Salam Kheil – 13 wickets (Band-e-Amir Dragons)

Highest score: Mohammed Shahzad 106* runs (Mis Anaik Knights vs. Boost Defenders)

Best bowling figures: Dawlat Zadran 5-9 (Mis Anaik Knights vs. Amo Sharks)

Player of the tournament: Karim Janat (Boost Defenders) & Azmatullah Omarzai (Kabul Eagles)

Now, let us discuss the performance of each team and analyze what worked for them and what did not work well for them this year.

KABUL EAGLES – CHAMPIONS

Played: 7, Won-6, Lost -1

Kabul Eagles won their second trophy this season after their maiden win in the 2016 season. They started the season badly with a 57 run loss in their opening encounter against Boost Defenders. But, they kicked on after that match by winning every match to clinch the trophy. Kabul Eagles chased the highest total in the Qualifier 1 and defended the lowest total in the finals against Mis-Aaik knights to win the trophy. Azmattullah Omarzai (187 runs), Samiullah Shenwari (164 runs), Noor Ali Zadran (222 runs), and Rahmanullah Gurbaz (192 runs) scored the bulk of runs for the team. Nangeyelia Kharote was the team`s leading wicket-taker with 13 wickets for the team. 

MIS ANAIK KNIGHTS – RUNNERS-UP

Played: 8, Won-4, Lost – 4

Mis Anaik Knights ended up as runner-up as failed to defeat Kabul Eagles in the finals. Knights lost all 3 matches they played against Kabul Eagles this season including the Qualifier 1 & finals. Hashmatullah Shahidi (339 runs), Mohammed Shahzad (291 runs), Ghmai Zadran (221 runs), and Bahar Shinwari (208 runs) scored consistently throughout the season and lead their batting department. Shapoor Zadran (12 wickets), Dawlat Zadran (12 wickets), and Noor Ahmed (11 wickets) were the chief wicket-takers of the team. 

BAND-E-AMIR DRAGONS – THIRD PLACE

Played: 7, Won-4, Lost – 3

Band-E-Amir Dragons campaign ended after they lost to Mis Anaik knights in the Qualifier 2 game. Band-E-Amir Dragons team failed to defeat the top 2 teams Kabul Eagles and Mis Anaik Knights in this season. They had the tournament`s highest run-scorer (Usman Ghani -355 runs) & highest wicket-taker (Waqar Salam Kheil-13 wickets) in their team. Ashgar Afghan (255 runs), Hazaratullah Zazai (180 runs), and Sharafuddin Ashraf (11 wickets) contributed to the team in crucial moments. 

BOOST DEFENDERS – FOURTH PLACE

Played: 6, Won-3, Lost – 3

Boost Defenders started the campaign with a dominating win over Kabul Eagles in their first match. But, they had a setback with two losses on a trot but they came back strongly with a win in the last two league matches to qualify for the play-offs. Boost defenders were out batted in the eliminator match as they gave 232 runs in the match. Karim Janat was the star performer of the team with 224 runs and 5 wickets this season. Amir Hamza (6 wickets), Gulbadin Naib (118 runs & 5 wickets), and Imran Janat (168 runs) chipped in with runs and wickets in the middle. 

SPEEN GHAR TIGERS 

Played: 5, Won-2, Lost – 3

Speen Ghar Tigers won 2 out of the 3 matches in the league phase but failed to win in one of the last two matches to bow out of the tournament in the league phase itself. Their batting unit scored crossed 150+ runs only twice in five matches. Tamim Surkhodi was the leading run-scorer for the team with just 104 runs. Karim Sadiq (6 wickets) and Zubaid Akhari (5 wickets) bowled well but were not consistent to cause trouble to the opposition. 

AMO SHARKS

Played: 5, Won-0, Lost – 5

Amo Sharks had a dreadful season as they lost all their league games. They never came close to winning any match as it is visible from their losing margins like 49 runs, 61 runs, 61 runs, 131 runs, 7 wickets, and 10 wickets respectively. Their lowest point came when they were bowled out for 62 runs and ended up losing the match by a massive margin by 131 runs against Mis Anaik knights. Darwish Rasooli (206 runs) and Abdul Wasi (7 wickets) were the top performers with the bat and ball this season. 

Controversies

Shpageeza Premier League was never short of action on the field and also faced a couple of controversies that made heads turn. 

Mankad run-out

In the match between Knights and Eagles, Dawlat Zadran ran out Noor Ali Zadran at the non-strikers` end before delivering the ball. Noor Ali Zadran backed up too far and the bowler spotted it to dismiss him and the spirit of the game was up for the talks among the fans and former players in social media.  The sparks are assured to fly off in the net whenever a batsman is dismissed in this fashion.

Debut of misconduct

In a rare occurrence, the owner of the Kabul Eagles team Abdul Latif decided to get into the playing XI against Speen Ghar tigers. He became the oldest player to debut in the Shpageeza league at 40 years. He bowled one over and went for 16 runs. Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) banned from the ground for the rest of the season for his misconduct the next day.  

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