Published:  02:00 AM, 13 January 2020

Dhaka, Ctg set to lock horn in BBPL eliminator

Khulna, Rajshahi eye ticket to final

Dhaka, Ctg set to lock horn in BBPL eliminator Chattogram Challengers pacer Mehedi Hasan Rana (L) alongside coach Paul Nixon seen at a training session on Sunday in Mirpur. -Collected

Following a cracking month-long league phase of the ongoing Bangabandhu Bangladesh Premier League (BPL), the attention will now switch to the knockout stages with the playoffs commencing from today.

The knockout stage of BPL begin with a blockbuster clash as there will no room for mistakes for both the teams - Dhaka Platoon and Chattogram Challengers - when they clash with each other in the first eliminator at Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium.  The game will start at 1.30 pm.

When it comes to previews of any sport, tagging favourites is the ideal way to set a narrative. However, for Today's clashes, it is safe to say, there isn't any. The X-factor in this game is the Mirpur stadium, which has been very good to Dhaka. A vociferous Dhaka crowd will leave no doubt which them they support.

The team which ends up second on the day will have to bid farewell to the next edition of the tournament and wait for another year to campaign for the coveted trophy.

The winner of the match will face-off against the loser of Qualifier 1 -- which will be either Khulna Tigers or Rajshahi Royals. A thrilling finish can be expected in this contest as the two sides consist of outstanding finishers.

Dhaka received a big blow for today's clash with their captain Mashrafe Mortaza sustained the blow during the 11th over of Khulna Tigers' innings on Saturday evening. Dhaka team management confirmed that Mashrafe had to take 14 stitches on his injured hand.

Despite the serious blow, Mashrafe wants to play the do-or-die eliminator with 14 stitches in hand. "We are not sure what to do. But Masrhafe is willing to play the eliminator. He is a fighter, we are now waiting to see what he finally does," Dhaka team manager Ahsanullah Hasan told the media yesterday.

In their final group stage encounter, both the teams tasted defeat but both the sides showed their capability to produce splendid cricket. Chattogram will begin as favourites as they have been a formidable side throughout the competition.

Apart from Imrul Kayes and Mahmudullah's midas touch and a consistent core group, Chattogram made best use of the conditions at home which was one of the major reasons for their success. Not hot favourites but warm enough to suggest it would be an upset if it went the other way.

The first team to qualify for the knockouts was Chattogram who finished third 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.

Meanwhile, the day's big attraction; the first finalist of the ongoing edition of the BPL will be decided when table-topper Khulna Tigers will lock horn with Rajshahi Royals in the in the Qualifier 1 at the same venue under the lights.

In their final group stage encounter, both the teams had similar results. Khulna would be riding high on confidence after clinching a convincing eight-wicket win against Dhaka to acquire pole position in the points table.

With 16 points from 12 games, both teams have had a fairly similar kind of journey so far with topper Khulna just above Rajshahi as a result of the superior net run rate. Rajshahi will feel like they underachieved. They were dominant but in patches.

The winner of the clash will make it to the final. Of course, a loss is not the end of the road for either team. The loser gets to play the second eliminator. But winning always beats losing. The losing team will face the winner of the Eliminator between Dhaka and Chattogram in Qualifier 2 on January 15.

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