TENDAI Chatara bowled his side Band-e-Amir Dragons to their first Afghanistan Shpageeza T20 Cricket League title with a tight final over that crippled compatriot Sikandar Raza’s Mis Ainak Knights in a nail-biting final yesterday.
The Zimbabwe fast bowler, who had struggled to get wickets on the day conceding 40 runs from his four overs, atoned for the disappointment when he was called to bowl the last over with the opponents just 12 runs from overhauling the target of 159 runs.
The Knights looked poised for victory after Raza’s fine knock and a cameo from skipper Mohammad Nabi, who struck a quick 27 off 12 balls, had given them a realistic chance of pulling the match.
But Chatara only conceded two runs off the first two balls of the thrilling final over leaving Knights to score 10 off the last four.
Raza, who had top-scored for his side and brimming with promise in the final over following a late charge from the Knights, was run out off the third ball and Chatara held his nerve and only conceded four off the last three balls to bowl his team to the title.
Former Zimbabwe international Vusi Sibanda also featured in the final when he opened the innings for the Knights with a contribution of 24 runs.
Ex-Zimbabwe captain Hamilton Masakadza and countryman Solomon Mire were also supposed to be part of the cast in the final but the duo were forced to return home prematurely following a directive from the Ministry of Sport and Recreation in response to a bomb scare at one of the tournament venues.
However, the majority of the players who included Raza, Chatara, Sibanda, Elton Chigumbura, Ryan Burl, Richard Ngarava, Tendai Chisoro, Luke Jongwe and Richmond Mutumbami decided to stay after getting assurances from the Afghan government.
Other foreign players like Abdul Razzaq (Pakistan), Ashan Priyanjan (Sri Lanka), Bilal Khan and Zeeshan Maqsood (Oman) also continued with the tournament while Cameron Delport, Morne van Wyk, Glenton Stuurman, Abdul Razak (South Africa) and Rayad Emrit (West Indies) left.
The tournament was played under a shadow of security threats and had to go ahead after the organisers defied a terrorist scare when a suicide bomber blew himself up outside the Kabul International Stadium killing three other people during a match between Boost Defenders and Mis-E-Ainak Knights on September 13.