Nervy win keeps Khulna afloat

Ariful Haque and Carlos Brathwaite hit late cameos as Khulna Titans defeated table-toppers Comilla Victorians by 14 runs in their final match to stay in contention for a top-two finish in the first phase of Bangladesh Premier League on Tuesday.
Chasing a challenging total of 175 runs at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium, Comilla could only reach 160-7 in their stipulated overs after Khulna posted 174-6.
Ariful made 35 off 21 balls while Brathwaite struck 22 runs off 12 deliveries as Khulna made 61 runs in the last four overs to post a competitive total against an in-form Comilla side.
The late sparks helped Khulna to get back into the match after they lost Nicholas Pooran (8), Mahmudullah (23) and Micheal Klinger (29) in the middle overs to find them struggling at 103-4.
Khulna got off to a flying start as Nazmul Hossain and Klinger added 55 runs in the opening stand before pacer Al-Amin Hossain dismissed Nazmul for 37 runs off 21 balls.
Playing his first game, Solomon Mire removed Klinger before Al-Amin struck again with the wicket of Mahmudllah.
Al-Amin also took the wicket of Ariful in the last ball of the final over to finish with 3-52, but Khulna already got the kind of total they were looking for after opting to bat first.
Comilla lost opener Mire (0) in the third ball of their innings but in-form Tamim Iqbal (36) and Imrul Kayes (20) shared a 63-run stand in the second wicket to keep them in the hunt.
However, few quick wickets slowed their progress to take the required run rate on a sky-high and despite the best effort of Shoaib Malik, who hit 36 off 23 balls with a four and three sixes, they could not reach home.
Marlon Samuels remained unbeaten on 25 runs off 16 balls and Roqibul Hasan made 17 off nine playing his first match of the season, but they were not enough to knock off Khulna’s total.
Man-of-the-match Ariful, who hit four fours and a six in his late blitz, was relived with the win which might not be enough for them to set up re-match against Comilla provided Dhaka beat Rangpur today by a good margin.
‘We needed to win the match as there are still many equations. At present, we are amongst the top two sides. It depends largely on Dhaka’s match and it will decide whether we can stay at the top or not,’ he told reporters after the match.
Comilla coach Salahuddin said that his charges didn’t bowl well to restrict Khulna to a gettable total.
‘We didn’t bowl well. We knew where to bowl but maybe boys had forgotten it in the field,’ he said.

Brief Scores
Khulna Titans 174-6 in 20 overs (Shanto 37, Ariful 35, Klinger 29, Mahmudullah 23; Al-Amin 3-52) v Comilla Victorians 160-7 in 20 overs (Tamim 36, Malik 36, Samuels 25 not out; Howell 2-32, Jayed 2-35)
Result: Khulna Titans won by 14 runs
Man of the match: Ariful Haque (Khulna Titans)

Source: New Age.

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