When the teams took shape at the beginning of the Bangabandhu Bangladesh Premier League (BBPL) T20 2019-20, most of the teams looked evenly powered. But the two finalists Khulna Tigers and Rajshahi Royals were hardly anyone's bet for the title.
Khulna had the smoother path to the final as they finished first in the round-robin stage and then beat Rajshahi in the first qualifier to have three days off before the final. On the other hand, Rajshahi were at first battered by Khulna's Mohammad Amir in the first qualifier and almost were on the brink of defeat against Chattogram Challengers in the second, only to be rescued by skipper Andre Russell's incredible 54 off 22 deliveries to send them through.
The most balanced team
Khulna Tigers have undoubtedly been the most balanced side of the ongoing BBPL as both their bowlers and batters have fared brilliantly. All of their top four have averaged more than 35 in this BBPL with skipper Mushfiqur Rahim leading the scoring charts with Rille Rossouw following him at second.
Their bowlers have also been prolific as three of their bowlers, Robbie Frylinck, Mohammad Amir and Shohidul Islam have picked up a total of 55 wickets. Mohammad Amir was the one to wreak havoc in the first qualifier as he picked up the figures of 6-17 against Rajshahi, which is the best figures in BBPL history.
Khulna coach James Foster was confident about playing the final and put out a warning saying that they have a plan for everybody of the Rajshahi side.
"I believe absolutely 100 percent that we can reach the final. We have planned for all their eleven players. That is what we do every time and nothing changes."
This is also a momentous occasion for Khulna skipper Mushfiq as this is going to be his first BBPL final and he will be hoping to have the last laugh.
The team of all-rounders
On a Rajshahi Royals bowling card, it is not uncommon to see, eight or nine bowlers bowling the 20 overs. They are a team full of all-rounders and they bat deep but their biggest strength lies in their top-order.
Their opening pair of Liton Das and Afif Hossain has been the most consistent opening pair of the tournament and has been the fuel of the Rajshahi engine and every time they have failed, the engine has misfired.
Rajshahi's middle order had mostly been untested and when called upon, they proved to be fragile. But the team management must have breathed a sigh of relief as their skipper Russell displayed his destructive ability to take them to the final. He was eyeing the trophy ahead of the final.
"There is nothing else in our mind apart from winning. We played last night as a team. We showed what we can do and I hope that we can give a good encounter for ourselves tomorrow night," Russell was confident.
In the grand finale, two of the best teams of the tournament will face off. It is impossible to guess a winner, even though Chattogram Challengers coach Paul Nixon has made a prediction saying that Rajshahi will come out on top. On the other hand, Khulna are full of confidence.
As the tournament commenced as a special edition, both the teams will be eager to register their name as the first trophy winner. Spectators and fans alike, are waiting for a fitting finale, which will cap this enthralling season at Sher-E-Bangla National Cricket Stadium.