Royals give Kings the blues

Sylhet Royals prevailed over Chittagong Kings by three wickets in a see-saw battle to maintain their unbeaten run in the Bangladesh Premier League in Chittagong on Monday.
The roar of the capacity crowd at the MA Aziz Stadium could not inspire the Kings, inarguably the biggest chokers in the tournament, who threw away another potential win to put their semi-final hopes in serious jeopardy.
Their third defeat in four matches came despite Kings put together 172-6, their best total in the tournament, before they had Sylhet Royals reeling at 56-4 at one stage of their run chase.
Afghan cricketer Mohammad Nabi and Zimbabwean Elton Chigumbura snatched the victory from the jaws of defeat with two brilliant innings as Royals cruised to 176-7 with three balls to spare.
It was not ensured until Rubel Hossain bowled the last over for Kings with Royals still needing eight runs for their win. Chigumbura, unbeaten on 31 from 17 balls, dispatched Rubel’s first ball for a six to kill off any outside chance Kings had in the match.
When a top-edge of Sohrawardi Shuvo rolled over the boundary rope it was all gloom at the dugout of Kings, who had started the game in such a positive way.
Ravi Bopara and Naeem Islam put on 78 runs in their opening stand to lay the foundation of a challenging total, though what they got in the end was not enough on this flat wicket.
Nabi took a brilliant catch to send back Bopara for 38 off 29 balls, but Naeem played an uncharacteristically quick innings of 72 facing just 52 balls to keep Kings afloat.
Sohag Gazi, who had to leave the field after a collision with Nabi while the latter was taking the catch of Bopara, returned to bowl two brilliant overs that prevented Kings from going wild at the death.
Still the home side had some reasons to smile as they took a wicket before Royals had opened their account.
Jacob Oram handed Hamilton Masakadza a third-ball duck before Kevon Cooper, Kings’ only outstanding bowler with 3-21, bowled Mominul Haque for his first wicket.
When Mushfiqur Rahim top-edged Enamul Haque Jr and Paul Stirling suffered a run-out it was thought to be over, but actually it was not. Nabi, who was partly responsible for the run-out, struck Enamul for two fours in consecutive balls before taking 18 runs from an over of Arafat Sunny including two back-to-back sixes, kept the contest evenly poised.
Bopara took a catch at long-on off Cooper to end the innings of Nabi, who made 43 from 26 balls, giving Kings a renewed hope, which, however, dwindled fast with the joining of Chigumbura with Nazmul Hossain Milon.
Chigumbura smashed Enamul for a four and two sixes in the space of four balls to keep the asking runs rate within their reach, which meant the dismissal of Nazmul for 32 off 23 balls was also not a problem.
Sohag Gazi hit Bopara in the penultimate over to bring the equation down to eight runs off seven balls, but the bowler bounced back in the next ball to bowl him out brining some excitement back in the Kings’ tent.
Anyone hoping for a match from that situation of eight off six balls must be disappointed seeing Rubel hoisted for a six in his first ball to call the contest off finally.
Chittagong Kings 172-6 in 20 overs (N Islam 72, R Bopara 34, RN ten Doeschate 21; S Gazi 2-21, S Shuvo 2-35) v Sylhet Royals 176-7 in 19.3 overs (Nabi 43, P Stirling 38, NH Milon 32, E Chigumbura 31 not out; K Cooper 3-21).
Result: Sylhet Royals won by 3 wickets.
Man of the match: M Nabi (SR).

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