Eoin Morgan saved his best for the last match, hitting a fabulous half-century to help Gazi Tank Cricketers clinch their maiden title in the Dhaka Premier League on Friday.
Morgan’s 71-ball 84 set up a 60-run win for Gazi against Prime Doleshwar in what was effectively the league final at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur.
The defeat means Doleshwar have to be content with third place after Mushfiqur Rahim’s unbeaten 97 propelled Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club to a four-wicket win over Kalabagan Cricket Academy on Friday.
Jamal finished level with Doleshwar on 20 points but took second-place honours by virtue of their head-to-head victory in the Super League. They were also ahead of Doleshwar in net run rate.
Gazi were the frontrunners to win the title for most of the campaign until a defeat in the penultimate round against Mohammedan nearly spoiled the party.
However, Morgan and Mahmudullah righted the ship with their brilliant batting, steering Gazi to 295-7 in their 50 overs after Doleshwar captain Farhad Reza won the toss and sent them in.
Despite the best efforts of Mominul Haque and Farhad, who scored 86 and 79 respectively, Doleshwar managed just 235 runs before they were all out with 26 balls still to play.
In the all-important final game, Gazi introduced an unheralded opener in Riazul Islam, who put on 60 runs with Imrul Kayes to give the side a solid start. After Riazul (36) and Imrul (40) were dismissed in quick succession, Gazi looked for a big innings from the in-form Roqibul Hassan, but he could only make 27.
However, Morgan, who scored just 70 runs in the last four matches, and Mahmudullah steadied their innings to set up the platform for a big innings. The pair added 101 runs before Mahmudullah, who scored 51 off 43 balls, was caught at midwicket by Farhad off Sohag Gazi.
Morgan missed out on a deserved century when he was caught by Mehedi Maruf at deep square leg off Taijul Islam. However, Ryan ten Doeschate did not allow Gazi to skip a beat, hitting an unbeaten 35 from just 18 balls.
Thanks to Morgan, Mahmudullah and Ten Doeschate, Gazi added 119 runs in the last 10 overs, which ultimately made the difference.
Doleshwar received a jolt when Rubel Hossain dismissed both of their openers in his second and third overs, before three wickets from left-arm spinner Nayeem Islam Jr left them reeling at 5-73.
Mominul held up one end to complete his fifty, crossing the milestone for only the second time in the league, and exploded once Farhad joined him at the crease. He lost his concentration during the batting powerplay and missed the line of a Mahmudullah delivery, getting bowled while trying to play a cut shot.
Mominul played 92 balls and smashed eight fours in an otherwise solid knock that went in vain. Farhad kept the contest alive for a while with some powerful hitting, but his dismissal on 79 off 60 balls by Ashar Zaidi effectively ended the contest.
Left-arm spinner Zaidi, the Pakistan-born Englishman, finished with figures of 4-39 to emerge as Gazi’s most successful bowler in the match.
Gazi Tank Cricketers v Prime Doleshwar SC
Gazi Tank Cricketers 295-7 in 50 overs (E Morgan 84, Mahmudullah 51, I Kayes 40, R Islam 36, RT Doeschate 35 not out; T Islam 2-74) v Prime Doleshwar 235 in 45. 4 overs (M Haque 86, F Reza 79, S Gazi 22; A Zaidi 4-39, N Islam jr 3-38, R Hossain 2-21).
Result: Gazi Tank Cricketers won by 60 runs.
Man of the Match: E Morgan (GTC)
-With New Age input