Rajshahi Kings scripted a fantastic comeback against the Rangpur Riders, after managing to score only 128, to register their 5th victory of the Bangladesh Premier League. The Riders had the Kings on the mat in the early stages of the match but were completely outplayed thereafter to lose the low scorer by a whopping 49-run margin.
After winning the toss, the Kings opted to bat first. But they found themselves at the receiving end of a brilliant display of spin bowling from the duo of Arafat Sunny and Shahid Afridi - the duo combined to pick 5 wickets for 41 runs in their 8 overs.
They were rocked early when out of form opener Junaid Siddique nicked an away-swinging delivery from Rubel Hossain into the hands of the keeper Mohammad Shahzad in the 2nd over of the innings, after scoring only 2 runs. A brief 23-run partnership between Mominul Haque and Sabbir Rahman followed, but the pair were separated when Arafat Sunny held on to a stunning return catch to send back the former.
Thereafter, the slide became steadier as they lost four wickets in the next four overs – the first of them in the same over in which Sunny picked up Mominul. Samit Patel’s attempt to pull a shorter delivery from the bowler ended in an edge to the keeper as he misjudged the pace and went through the shot early.
Sunny picked the last of his 3 wickets in his next over, when he enticed Abul Hasan into slog sweeping to the deep midwicket fence with a tossed up delivery. By the end of the 7th over, the Kings had been already reduced to 36/4, but the damage was not yet completed as Afridi pegged back the off stump of Pakistan teammate Umar Akmal with a skidder, leaving them with half their side in the pavilion.
The skipper Darren Sammy arrived at the crease, hoping to repeat his rescue act from the last game, but didn’t last long, bowled for 5 by his opposite number Liam Dawson. Sabbir Rahman, who was watching the collapse all this while from the other end, finally departed, lobbing a catch back to a diving Afridi.
With the Rajshahi Kings were seven down even before they could cross 50, the match was expected to die down into a one-sided affair. But the Kings had other ideas. No.8 Mehedi Hasan Miraz and No.9 Farhad Reza raised a brilliant, unbeaten 85 run partnership for the 8th wicket. The pair batted with a maturity and temperament that the situation demanded.
The first half of the partnership was constructed around quick running between the wickets, cutting out the high-risk shots. Both batsmen went at close to a run-a-ball till the 16th over - the score had improved to 78/7 by then. Farhad was the first to cut loose, taking Rubel Hossain for a four and a six in the 17th over of the innings, followed by Miraz.
The latter capped off a brilliant comeback from the Kings, with a four and a six off the first two deliveries of the last over - 16 runs were scored off the last over and the last 4 overs yielded 50.
They ended at an under-par score of 128 but Farhad and Miraz who remained unbeaten on 44 and 41 respectively, had done well enough to give themselves a sufficient target to bowl at.
Feeding on the momentum his team gained in the last few overs of their batting innings, the Kings captain was all charged up in the field. Sammy brought in all his experience into play, ringing in timely bowling changes and keeping the batsmen on the toes with his fields.
In a similar pattern to the first innings, the Rangpur Riders’ top order collapsed like a pack of cards and they were left tottering at 50/6 by the 10th over. However, unlike the Kings, late order heroics eluded the Riders as they folded up for 79 in less than 18 overs.
Mohammad Shahzad (12) and Mohammad Mithun (20) were the only players to touch double figures in a very miserable-looking scorecard. Left-arm spinner Nazmul Islam and medium-pacer Abul Hasan shared the spoils with 3 wickets each, mopping up the lower order while Mehedi Hasan Miraz chipped in with the key wickets of Soumya Sarkar and Nazir Jamshed. Wicketkeeper Umar Akmal also had a busy day behind the stumps, accounting for half of the dismissals – 3 stumpings and 2 catches.
With this stunning come-from-behind victory, the Rajshahi Kings are currently fourth on the points table with 10 points from 9 matches and have improved their chances for a playoff spot.
Brief Scores: Rajshahi Kings – 128/7 (Farhad Reza 44* (32), Mehedi Hasan Miraz 41* (33); Arafat Sunny 3/31 (4), Shahid Afridi 2/10 (4); )
Rangpur Riders – 79 (Mohammad Mithun 20 (21), Mohammad Shahzad 12 (11); Nazmul Islam 3/8 (4), Abul Hasan 3/11 (2.4), Mehedi Hasan Miraz 2/12 2); )
Result: Rajshahi Kings won the low-scoring thriller by 49 runs. Mehedi Hasan Miraz was awarded the ‘Player of the Match’ for his all-round display of 41*(33) with the bat and figures of 2/12 with the ball.