Rangpur make meal of chase to eliminate Dhaka and confirm progress
Dhaka Dominators had to beat Rangpur Riders today to stay alive in the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) but the latter earned a nervy two-wicket victory to grab the fourth and remaining spot for the next phase of the franchise-based T20 tournament.
Rangpur made a meal of the chase from a position of strength but eventually went past Dhaka's subpar 130 total with three deliveries to spare, and the result leaves the former champions in contention to win the ninth BPL edition alongside Sylhet Strikers, Fortune Barishal, and Comilla Victorians.
Before the game at Mirpur Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium, Shoaib Malik received a guard of honour from his Rangpur teammates ahead of the Pakistani veteran all-rounder's 500th T20 match.
Sent in to bat, Dhaka were on the backfoot from the first over bowled by off-spinner Mahedi Hasan as their most-recent player-of-the-match Mohammad Mithun – who struck a 36-ball 54 against Barishal – got involved in a run out after dispatching innings' first delivery for a boundary.
Captain Nasir Hossain decided to promote himself up the batting order but the in-form batter fell in the next over, bowled by Afghan pacer Azmatullah Omarzai.
Opener Soumya Sarkar was the next to fall for cheap as Omarzai found his second victim. Soumya had another disappointing outing in this BPL as he used up 12 deliveries for his three runs, and Dhaka were 11 for three inside four overs.
Abdullah Al Mamun (23) and Alex Blake (11-ball 18) initiated a recovery act with a 38-run stand. Ariful Haque then struck innings-highest 30 off 26, striking two fours and a six, and Shoriful Islam and Amir Hamza chipped in with double digits to give Dhaka bowlers something to defend, 131.
Omarzai's two scalps aside, Mahedi, seamer Hasan Mahmud, and Pakistani duo of Haris Rauf and Mohammad Nawaz took a wicket apiece.
In reply, Rangpur had a taste of their own medicine as their opener, Mohammad Naim, departed caught behind in the first over, bowled by Shoriful who struck again in his next over as the left-arm quick trapped Mahedi in front.
Like Dhaka, Rangpur also had their skipper, Nurul Hasan Sohan, promoted up the batting order but it paid dividends as Sohan and opener Rony Talukdar took their side to a stable ground before taking the game away from Dhaka.
Sohan was the chief aggressor in the 93-run stand, while Rony remained focused on strike rotation before he chose to chance his arms at a Nasir delivery but only to get caught out in the deep for 34.
Prior to Rony's departure, Sohan had struck two back-to-back sixes off Soumya, the first of which brought up his fifty. However, the wicketkeeper-batter was removed by Shoriful next over, which also turned a wicket-maiden, courtesy of Soumya Sarkar who juggled his way several times before holding on to the ball.
With Sohan's impressive 33-ball 61-run knock, comprising seven boundaries and three sixes, coming to a halt, Dhaka had their tail up with some momentum but the asking-rate was comfortable, under six runs per over, with Malik and Nawaz in the middle.
Malik, however, appeared unwilling to play by the situation's merit and the Pakistani star paid the price for attempting back-to-back sixes off the wily Nasir, who deceived the batter for a stumping dismissal and is currently the leading wicket-taker.
Dhaka had further glimmers of hope as a brilliantly run outfield catch by Ariful Haque saw the back of Nawaz. The equation, of 13 in three overs, still favoured Rangpur as they had four batters remaining until Nasir returned to bowl his last over, where he conceded two runs and, more importantly, picked two wickets.
Shamim Hossain Patwary and Rakibul Hasan fell in successive deliveries, both left-hand batters bowled out from failing to read Nasir's arm delivery that held its line, and the Dhaka skipper extended his tournament tally to 16.
Needing to defend five runs in the final over, Muktar Ali – who had gone for 16 runs in the only over he bowled in the game – had the opportunity to redeem himself. However, Omarzai and Rauf made no mistakes in the end.