Rajshahi Royals batsman Liton Das plays a shot against Chattogram Challengers during Bangabandhu Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) league-phase match at Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Mirpur on Saturday. -BCB
Title favourite Rajshahi Royals took a giant stride towards the Bangabandhu Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) playoff clashes by pounding Chattogram Challengers by eight wickets in a dead-rubber league phase encounter at Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Mirpur on Saturday.
This victory gave Rajshahi the pole position in BPL points table. Rajshahi ended the league phase with 16 points from 12 matches -- the same as Chattogram -- but they secured the top spot by virtue of better run rate. Rajshahi ended at a net run rate of 0.42 as against 0.129 of Chattogram. Both Rajshahi and Chattogram grabbed eight wins and tasted four defeats.
The first team to qualify for the knockouts was Chattogram Challengers who are currently second in the table. The team to follow Chattogram was Rajshahi Royals. Dhaka Platoon, as many expected, sealed their place in the top four as third team where Khulna Tigers confirmed the final slot of the playoff after shattering Cumilla Warriors' playoff dreams on Friday.
Opener Liton Das struck a dazzling 75 to lead Rajshahi to an easy win over Chattogram on Saturday which gave them the top position in the points table. Liton stitched two crucial partnerships, first a 88-run stand with Afif Hossain (32) for the opening wicket and then another 50 runs for the second wicket with Shoaib Malik (43 not) as Rajshahi chased down the target of 155 with 14 balls to spare.
The player of the match Liton carried his bat through the innings, hitting 11 fours and a smashing six off 48 balls while Malik consumed 25 balls for his unbeaten 43.
Chasing 156 for a win, Rajshahi made a fluent start with 60 runs coming form powerplay without losing any wicket. Liton hitting a four and a six in back-to-back deliveries off Mahmudullah in the fourth over was the highlight.
Afif was out the second ball after 10thover off the bowling of Nasum Ahmed. That was the first success Chattogram had as Liton and Mail further took Rajshahi comfortable position until Liton was trapped by Ziaur Rahman in the 16th over but Malik refused to give up and ensured there was no late drama.
Earlier put into bat first, Chattogram's big budgeted Chris Gayle failed to deliver when it mattered the most as they scored a sub-par 155 for 5 in their last BPL league phase game.
Tight Rajshahi bowling had limited Chattogram despite skipper Mahmudullah's late onslaught. Pace trio Mohammad Irfan, Abu Jayed and Kamrul Islam started the bowling attack for Rajshahi and established an upper hand in the first half of the Chattogram innings, before Mahmudullah and Nurul Hasan stitched a quick 38-run stand to take the score to 155/5 in 20 overs.
While Rajshahi openers Liton and Afif clobbered 60 runs from the powerplay overs Chattogram's Chris Gayle and Junaid Siddique made slow start as the openers put on 38 runs from 38 balls which made the difference. Imrul Kayes (19) also struggled to increase the run-rate in the middle.
The T20 boss Gayle was not as effective with a 21-ball 23. He hit two sixes and a four. Mahmudullah and Nurul later hit a few lusty blows to get Chattogram on track. Mahmudullah specially went on the attack from the outset; reaching unbeaten 48 from 33 balls while Nurul scored 30 from 17 balls. Mahmudullah particularly targeted Farhad Reza as he and Zia took 17 runs in the final over.
SCORES IN BRIEF
Chattogram Challengers 155 for five in 20 overs (Mahmudullah 48 not out, Nurul Hasan 30; Mohammad Irfan 1-24, Shoaib Malik 1-11)
Rajshahi Royals 156 for 2 in 17.4 overs (Liton Das 75, Shoaib Malik 43 not out; Nasum Ahmed 1-33)
Result Rajshahi Royals won by eight wickets
Player-of-the-match Liton Das
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