Explosive Pollard delivers easy win

Kieron Pollard played a hurricane knock after Imran Nazir’s blitzkrieg as Dhaka Gladiators bounced back strongly with a five-wicket victory against Barisal Burners in the crucial match of the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) T20 at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur yesterday.
Smarting from a 13-run defeat in their previous match, a low-scoring encounter against Chittagong Kings, Mashrafe Bin Mortaza’s men showed some character to improve their semifinal chances as they sit on ten points from nine matches while Barisal, with eight points from nine games, have seemingly had their hopes dashed by the defeat.
Chasing a 157-run winning target, young Anamul Haque whacked pacer Kabir Ali for six as Dhaka completed their chase with ten balls remaining. Before that West Indian Pollard’s big-hitting display entertained the near-8,000 strong crowd.
Pakistan spinner Ahmed Shehzad, who bowled round the wicket, felt the heat most as he was mercilessly punished by the well-built West Indian right-hander who consecutively hammered a four and three sixes over long-on, long-off and mid-wicket in the 18th over which made the game, up till then a close one, easy for Dhaka.
Pollard smote one four and four sixes during his unbeaten 17-ball 35.
Before that Pakistan opener Imran Nazir, who was later adjudged man of the match, returned to action with a bang after his head injury as he hit six sweetly timed boundaries and three sixes in his 40-ball 65 which laid the foundation for the victory.
Dhaka got off to a poor start, losing two wickets in Mohammad Ashraful and Aftab Ahmed with the scoreboard reading 11, but Azhar Mahmood joined Nazir to steady the ship, associating 92 runs for the third wicket. Mahmood smashed seven fours to make 42 off 30 balls.
There was a hiccup in the middle of the Dhaka innings as they lost three wickets for only 9 runs thanks to left-arm spinner Sohrawardi Shuvo who inflicted the damage through the wickets of Nazir and Darren Stevens, but Pollard seized the initiative with a superb display of power-hitting.
“Our confidence is now high and we are confident about our semifinal berth. The team strength will further be enhanced when Saeed Ajmal and Shahid Afridi join the squad,” said Imran Nazir after the match.
Barisal skipper Brad Hodge said that their total was 15 runs short.
Barisal rode on Shehzad’s 39-ball 51 that contained seven fours to score 156 runs for six wickets. They however missed a chance to set a challenging total for their opponents mainly because of a lack of power from Mohammad Mithun (24 not out in 24 balls) and Rameez Raja (17 off 14 balls).
It was also a little surprising to see the team think-tank send Kabir Ali ahead of Mominul Haque, who was the hero in the last match during his team’s four-wicket victory against Khulna Royal Bengals in Chittagong.
BARISAL: 156-6 in 20 overs (Hodge 23, Shehzad 51, Mustard 33, Mithun 24 not out, Rameez 17; Naved-ul Hasan 2-22)
DHAKA: 160-5 in 18.2 overs (Imran 65, Mahmood 42, Pollard 35 not out; Kabir 2-18, Shuvo 2-26)
Result: Dhaka Gladiators won by five wickets.
Man-of-the-match: Imran Nazir.

-With The Daily Star input

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