Rangpur pull off a cliffhanger

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Rangpur Riders came back from the depths of despair and pulled off a stunning win over Chittagong Vikings by two wickets in the first game of BPL-2015 today.

With the scoreboard pressure mounting with every ball, both Perera and Misbah kept their cool and waited for the opportune moment to attack.

With 91 needed from the last six overs, Rangpur had the experienced Misbah-ul-Haq and the explosive Thisara Perera at the crease, the last recognized pair for the Riders.

Rangpur Riders v Chittagong Vikings
Rangpur: 188/8 (20/20 over)
Chittagong: 187/7 (20/20 over)

Their assault began in the 15th over with 17 runs coming of Amir. Next over from Taskin went for 15. Shafiul was carted for 16, and still then Rangpur needed 43 from the last three overs.

Perera took the attack to Ziaur Rahman and managed to score 21 from the over to bring his team closer to the target.

However, the match swung like a pendulum when Amir bowled his last over. He took the crucial wickets of Perera and Misbah, while conceding only eight runs to give his team the upper-hand in this tense encounter.

Riders needed 14 from the last six balls, and Shafiul had the ball in hand while Darren Sammy took strike. Sammy missed the first ball, hammered the second for a six, took a couple off the third ball and a four from the next to bring down the equation in his team’s favour.

While taking the second run, Sammy was run out in the fifth ball, and the scores were level.

Saqlain Sajib came and struck the winning run from the last ball to send his teammates into a euphoric celebration as they rushed on to the field to congratulate the batsman.

Misbah-ul-Haq was adjudged the player-of-the-match for his efforts. He scored 61 from 39 balls with three fours and four sixes punctuating his innings. He was ably supported by Sri Lankan Perera who upped the ante when needed, smashed 43 from only 17 balls with four fours and three crucial sixes during the last few overs of this exciting match.

Mohammad Amir was the best bowler for Chittagong Vikings. In his international comeback match after serving the five-year ban, Amir took four wickets for 30 runs in four overs.

After Taskin Ahmed sent back Mohammad Mithun with a jaffer, it was Shafiul Islam who got the vital wicket of Shakib Al Hasan with a good length ball on leg-stump.

Shakib made room to cut but only managed to get an outside edge to the keeper. Rangpur captain didn’t have a good day with the ball or the bat, and was caught behind for one.

Mohammad Amir found prodigious swing with the white new ball and rocked Rangpur early with two wickets in his second over.

Amir got a full ball to swing into Soumya’s pad and found the batter given out by the on-field umpire. However, replays showed the ball was heading down the leg side.

Soumya was looking good at the crease, smoked 20 from only nine balls with three fours and a huge six of Taskin Ahmed.

Lendl Simmons found it extremely difficult to score, and was dismissed by the Pakistani left-arm fast bowler for a single run.

Chittagong Vikings managed to score 187 runs for the loss of seven wickets in twenty overs, thanks largely to Jeevan Mendis’s cameo of 39 from only 18 balls.

Jeevan came to the crease when his team was in a spot of bother, and didn’t let the pressure get to him at any moment. He smashed three boundaries as well as three sixes late in the innings to give Chittagong a big total.

However, Rangpur pulled back things with quick wickets, and they definitely looked like chasing a 200-plus total after the Vikings had romped to hundred runs in ten overs with nine wickets left in the dressing room.

Saqlain Sajib was the star with the ball, and rocked Chittagong’s middle order with three wickets for 26 runs in four overs. Abu Jayed played his role quite proficiently, and took wickets for 26 runs as well.

For Chittagong, their captain Tamim was the top-scorer and his knock of 51 runs contained some of his trademark pulls of the hip and booming drives through cover.

Abu Jayed returned for this second spell and broke the back of Chittagong’s resistance with the timely wicket of Elton Chigumbura in the 16th over.

Chigumbura tried to loft his shot over cover but only managed to find the safe hands Shakib, and left the field with a single run to his name.

Chittagong’s much anticipated surge in the death overs became stalled by three quick wickets taken by Saqlain Sajib against the run of play.

Saqlain became the wrecker-in-chief for his team, and rocked Chittagong’s middle order with the scalp of Ziaur Rahman after the two he took in his previous over.

Saqlain Sajib gave Rangpur some respite in the 13th over when he sent back the swashbuckling opener Tamim and Anamul Haque to bring his team back into the contest.

Anamul played second fiddle to Tamim in their 2nd wicket stand, scored 36 from 30 balls. He struck five sweetly timed fours during his stay at the wicket.

Opening the innings, Chittagong skipper Tamim hardly placed a foot wrong, and used the slow, batting friendly track at Mirpur to his advantage.

He came out with a plan against the left-arm spinners, and used his feet brilliantly to score freely both on the off and leg side to the utter dismay of Rangpur captain.

Tamim smashed 50 runs from only 30 balls, and showed his full repertoire of strokes with six fours and a six in his breezy knock. He was caught at the mid-wicket boundary after he added one run to his half-century, but gave his team a tremendous platform to accelerate in the later overs.

Chittagong opener Tillakaratne Dilshan came out on a hot, blazing afternoon at Mirpur with a positive frame of mind and stamped his authority early.

He was especially brutal against Shakib’s spin, and gave Bangladesh’s ace allrounder a sound beating in his second over. Dilshan was also helped in his cause by some loose bowling from Perera who was punished for some short-pitch rubbish.

He was dismissed by Abu Jayed for a quick-fire 29 from 16 balls, with two fours and three sixes to his name.

Tamim didn’t play second fiddle to Dilshan for long. He went down the wicket and swept with disdain when Arafat Sunny came to bowl.

Earlier, Chittagong captain Tamim Iqbal won the toss and decided to bat first in the opening match of this year’s Bangladesh Premier League against Shakib’s Rangpur Riders.

Riders’ fortunes will revolve around their icon player Shakib Al Hasan. He will lead the side and shoulder responsibility with the bat and ball. Shakib, world’s premier allrounder according to the ICC T20 rankings, though, has done it all before.

On paper, Rangpur Riders look really impressive, and their team management brought together a bunch of strong allrounders particularly adept at T20 cricket. Rangpur fans would love see the likes of Darren Sammy, Thisara Perera, Lendl Simmons, Kevin O’Brien and Mohammad Nabi come to the party early in the tournament.

After having Soumya Sarkar as the first pick in the regular draft, Riders took Arafat Sunny, allrounder Muktar Ali and batsman Mohammad Mithun.

Chittagong Vikings have a good mix of local and foreign players, and their fans would love their skipper Tamim Iqbal crack the T20 code after two moderate BPL seasons.

Tamim, Tillakaratne Dilshan, the Akmal brothers, and Elton Chigumbura form an impressive top order while the likes of Chamara Kapugedara, Jeevan Mendis, and Robin Peterson provide muscle with the bat down the order.

On the bowling front, much will depend on Mohammad Amir. Saaed Ajmal, Enamul Haque jnr and Elias Sunny offer spin options though all three are quite unlikely to feature together.

Taskin Ahmed’s fitness continues to be a cause for concern, which means there will be more opportunities for Shafiul Islam and Robiul Islam.

Rangpur Riders Team

Abdullah Al Mamun, Abu Jayed, Arafat Sunny, Jahurul Islam, Misbah-ul-Haq, Mohammad Al-Amin, Mohammad Mithun (Wicketkeeper), Mohammad Nabi, Muktar Ali, Murad Khan, NLTC Perera, DJG Sammy, Saqlain Sajib, SMSM Senanayake, Shakib Al Hasan (Captain), LMP Simmons, Soumya Sarkar and Wahab Riaz

Chittagong Vikings Team

Anamul Haque, Asif Ahmed, E Chigumbura, TM Dilshan, Elias Sunny, Enamul Haque jnr, Kamran Akmal (Wicketkeeper), CK Kapugedera, BMAJ Mendis, Mohammad Amir, Naeem Islam, Nafees Iqbal, RJ Peterson, Saeed Ajmal, Shafiul Islam, Tamim Iqbal (Captain), Umar Akmal and Ziaur Rahman

Source: The Daily Star

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