Chattogram Challengers became the first team to qualify for the play-offs of the ongoing Bangabandhu Bangladesh Premier League when they notched up a comfortable six-wicket win over Khulna Tigers at the Sylhet International Cricket Stadium on Saturday.
Chattogram’s pace duo Rubel Hossain (3-17) and Mehedi Hasan Rana (3-29) set up the win for the table-toppers as they picked up three wickets each to bowl Khulna out for 121 runs in 19.5 overs after sending them to bat first.
In reply, Junaed Siddique (38), Lendl Simmons (36) and skipper Imrul Kayes (30 not out) made meaningful contributions as Chattogram reached 124-4 in 18.1 overs to register their seventh victory in the tournament.
Mehedi earlier provided Chattogram two quick breakthroughs when he dismissed Mehedi Hasan (four) and Hashim Amla (eight) in space of four deliveries in the third over of the innings.
Rubel joined in the act in the next over by dismissing Shamshur Rahman for a duck to reduce Khulna to 14-3.
Rilee Rossouw and Mushfiqur Rahim then stemmed the free fall of wickets by adding 39 runs for the fourth wicket but pacer Ziaur Rahman dismissed Mushfiq for 29 to end their resistance.
Rossouw and Robbie Frylinck then added 43 runs for the fifth wicket before Kesrick Williams (2-21) denied Rossouw of a fifty for two runs and dismissed Aamer Yamin in successive deliveries to reduce them to 106-6 inside 17 overs.
Rubel and Mehedi soon took the remaining wickets to bundle out Khulna for a below-par total.
With his three wickets against Khulna, Mehedi overtook Rangpur Rangers’ Mustafizur Rahman (16) in the wicket-takers list as he now has 17 wickets in eight matches, most by any bowler in the tournament.
‘Actually I am not counting my wickets. I am just thinking of playing match by match,’ Mehedi said after the match.
‘I am trying to do well in every game. I am not worrying whether Mustafiz is overtaking me or not,’ he added.
In reply, Chattogram got off to a flying start with openers Simmons and Junaed putting a 69-run stand before Simmons was dismissed by Aliss Islam after hitting three fours and two sixes.
Off-spinner Mehedi removed Junaed in the next over while Frylinck claimed the wickets of Asela Gunaratne (0) and Chadwick Walton (seven) but it hardly put Chattogram under any kind of pressure as they reached the target with 11 balls to spare.
‘It was a tough wicket. It was scary at the beginning, one ball-carrying up and one ball keeping low,’ Rossouw told reporters after the match.
‘Their bowlers bowled well and took advantage of the wicket, they put us on the back foot. Me and Mushfiq thought of scoring 140 or 150 runs which should be enough on these wickets,’ he added.