Duronto Rajshahi became the first team to qualify for the semi-finals in the Bangladesh Premier League T20 with a resounding eight-wicket win over Khulna Royal Bengals in Dhaka on Sunday.
The win, Rajshahi’s sixth in nine matches, gave them 12 points which means they cannot be eliminated from the group phase, though a few matches are still left.
Mohammad Sami and Sean Ervine set up the win with three wickets apiece that saw Khulna dismissed cheaply for 106 runs, the lowest total by any side batting first in this tournament.
Rajshahi were lagging behind in net run rate and the small target provided them a perfect opportunity to improve it. They grabbed it with both hands, racing to 110-2 in 14.1 overs with Junaed Siddique unbeaten on 29 from 32 balls.
The match could have been finished earlier if Junaed and Marlon Samuels had not wasted few deliveries at the end of their innings. Shahzaib Hossain gave them a solid start clubbing five fours and a six to score 28 off 12 balls before Sakib al Hasan stopped his onslaught.
But Junaed and Samuels batted with ease denying Khulna a further breakthrough. Samuels was out in the next ball after he completed his fifty with a single, giving a catch to Andre Adams off Nazmul Hossain.
Junaed hit Nazmul for a boundary through the mid-wicket to end the match and take Rajshahi, who lost their two opening matches in the tournament, through to the semi-finals.
‘Obviously it is a great comeback,’ said Rajshahi captain Mushfiqur Rahim. ‘We are now looking forward to the semi-final and if everyone can do their best definitely we will achieve our goal.’
It’s however not all over for Khulna as they can still qualify with a win over Sylhet Royals today. Even a loss to Sylhet can hardly matter providing the results of the other matches go their way.
A win against Rajshahi would have been enough for Khulna as well, but they let themselves down with poor batting that saw their two veteran openers, Herschelle Gibbs and Sanath Jayasuriya, survive only 10 balls.
The absence of in-from opener Shivnarine Chanderpaul through injury cost them dearly as no batsman at the top could provide them any impetus.
Sami had Jayasuriya lbw for a first-ball duck in the first over before Pakistani pacer Abdul Razzaq made Gibbs a catch of Shahzaib in the next over. Niall O’Brien held one end for long but wickets continued to tumble at the other end at a regular interval.
Ervine ripped the heart out of the middle-order to finish with 3-19 as Khulna lost their ninth wicket for 87 runs. Abdur Razzak helped the innings cross 100-run mark with his 15 off 13 balls before he fell to Sami, who claimed 3-16.
‘We were let down by our top-order batsmen,’ lamented Khulna captain Sakib. ‘Someone in the top six should have taken some responsibility, but that did not happen.’
-With New Age input