The matches at the Bangladesh Premier League, today, followed the familiar script of top order collapses and lower order resurrection, as has been the case in many of the matches this season.
In the first of the double-headers, reigning champions Comilla Victorians prevailed over last year’s runners-up Barisal Bulls in a bottom of the table clash at the Shere Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur – the teams are placed in the last two spots in the current edition.
After Barisal Bulls won the toss and opted to bat, Victorians captain Mashrafe Mortaza started the proceedings with a lovely display of swing bowling in the first over. Sri Lankan Dilshan Munaweera was beaten by swing and played and missed five times in the over – the first runs on the board came off a wide.
Controversy-ridden Shahadat Hossain, who was making his comeback after serving temporary suspension from the game, was welcomed by Munaweera with a powerful six over long off, but the bowler hit back in the same over, cleaning him up with a cross-seamed slower delivery that struck the off stump
Munaweera’s fellow countryman Jeevan Mendis was welcomed with an away swinging snorter but got going with a boundary through mid-wicket to end the over. While Mortaza and Shahadat were treated with respect, Jeevan Mendis helped himself to a flying start at the other end, greeting off-spinner Nazmul Hossain Shanto with three back to back boundaries – a four swept past the short fine leg and consecutive sixes over the long on and the cow corner fence.
At the end of the Powerplay, the Bulls were 42 for the loss of a wicket. However, Dawid Malan perished soon after, edging to the keeper while trying to cut a delivery pitched on length and angling away from medium pacer Mohammad Saifuddin. That brought Mushfiqur Rahim to the crease.
The Bulls captain had been in hot form in this season and started with a powerful six over long on off just his 2nd delivery. The Mendis-Rahim duo were comfortably milking the bowling for ones and twos in the next few overs until Mendis decided to walk down the pitch and swing across the line to left arm spinner, Nabil Samad. The ill-advised stroke came against the run of play and set off a collapse.
In the next four overs, the Bulls slipped from 64/3 to 87/6 as Shahriar Nafees, Nadif Chowdhury and the skipper himself departed in quick succession, but lower order cameos from Enamul Haque (20*), Taijul Islam (14) and Abu Hider (16*) lifted the score to 142.
In reply, the Comilla Victorians started comfortably and broke no sweat in pursuit of the target at hand. They were 44 for the loss of no wickets at the end of the Powerplay and the openers Imrul Kayes and Ahmed Shehzad went about their business briskly until Kayes mistimed a pull off the bowling of Dawid Malan and fell short of a well-deserved fifty, with the score at 93 by the 13th over.
Shehzad brought up his 50 in the 15th over but couldn’t carry on as he was dismissed on 61 by a slower delivery from left-arm medium pacer Rumman Raees. Marlon Samuels completed the formalities, finishing the chase with a flourish - a six and four in the last two deliveries of the 16-run penultimate over.
Brief Scores: Barisal Bulls – 142/8 (Mushfiqur Rahim 29 (23), Jeevan Mendis 28 (24), Enamul Haque 20* (15); Nabil Samad 3/17 (4), Rashid Khan 2/21 (4), Shahadat Hossain 1/22 (3); )
Comilla Victorians – 145/2 (19) (Ahmed Shehzad 61 (56), Imrul Kayes 46 (35), Marlon Samuels 27* (18); Dawid Malan 1/8 (2), Rumman Raees 1/38 (4); )
Result: Comilla Victorians won by 8 wickets with an over to spare. Victorians’ spinner Nabil Samad was awarded the ‘Player of the Match’ for his 3-wicket haul, which included the crucial wickets of a well-set Jeevan Mendis and Mushfiqur Rahim.
As the bottom-of-the-table clash drew to a close, second and third placed Khulna Titans and Chittagong Vikings faced each other in the second match of the day. After winning the toss and opting to bat first, the Titans were reduced to 38/4 by the end of the Powerplay. Captain Mahmudullah and Ariful Haque strung together a 44-run partnership for the 5th wicket before being dismissed off successive overs. Thereafter, cameos from West Indian duo of Nicholas Pooran and Kevon Cooper took their total to a respectable 131.
The Vikings opening pair of Tamim Iqbal and Chris Gayle started briskly, striking at close to 10 in the first 4 overs, before Gayle holed out to long-on off Shuvagata Hom. They brought up the 50 in the 7th over but suffered a minor collapse thereafter. In a sequence of two run outs and a stumping, the Vikings lost Anamul Haque, Shoaib Malik and Zakir Hasan and slipped to 64/4 by the 11th over.
A timely partnership of 37 runs, between Tamim and Jahurul Islam, however, allayed any hopes the Titans would have harboured of winning the game. Tamim carried on through the innings, remaining unbeaten on 66 while Afghan all-rounder Mohammad Nabi brought up the win with consecutive boundaries in the penultimate over.
Comilla Victorians will take the field again, against the Rajshahi Kings and Rangpur Riders will take on the top-ranked Dhaka Dynamites in tomorrow’s round of matches in the Bangladesh Premier League.
Khulna Titans – 131/8 (Mahmudullah 42 (39), Rikki Wessels 20 (16); Imran Khan 2/16 (4), Taskin Ahmed 2/28 (4); )
Chittagong Vikings – 135/5 (18.4) (Tamim Iqbal 66* (59), Jahurul Islam 22 (18); Kevon Cooper 1/18 (4), Mosharraf Hossain 1/25 (3.4); )
Chittagong Viking won by 5 wickets. Tamim’s unbeaten knock of 66 won him the ‘Player of the Match’ award.