After 23 matches of riveting contests, it has all come down to the final of the Bangabandhu T20 Cup. Two of the best teams, Gazi Group Chattogram and Gemcon Khulna will be facing each other at the Sher-E-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur on Friday at half-past four. Both the teams have quality cricketers, international and domestic, to light up the stage, making it an enthralling contest.
No Shakib in the final
Shakib Al Hasan is not going to play the final for Gemcon Khulna as he returned to the USA for family reasons. His absence will be a massive blow for the Khulna-based team. The southpaw hasn't been in the best of touches with the bat but found some sort of form in the first qualifier against Chattogram. But he has been pretty good with the ball. He hasn't picked up many wickets but is the most economical bowler in the tournament, having gone for six-an-over. Shakib managed to keep the batsmen quiet in the powerplay as well as in the middle overs. Khulna will badly miss his service as experience is likely to come into play in important matches.
But Mahmudullah, the Khulna skipper, sees the absence of Shakib an opportunity for others to step up and do the job.
Khulna's lack of 'intent' in the powerplay
Both the teams have been generally good at the death with the bat but Gemcon Khulna haven't been enterprising in the first six overs. They struggled to find a settled opening combination. Khulna's best performance with the bat came in the first qualifier where they scored in excess of 200, 210 for seven to be precise. But prior to that, they scored 6.35 runs on average only in the powerplay and lost two wickets in the process. Khulna batsmen need to show some intent to take advantage of the field restrictions in the powerplay. But it will not be easy for them as they will be up against Nahidul Islam, who has been one of the most economical bowlers in the tournament, conceding only 6.03 runs per over.
Chattogram's over-reliance on the top-order
Gazi Group Chattogram openers- Liton Das and Soumya Sarkar have been vital cogs in their side's wheel, scoring 370 and 280 runs respectively in the tournament. The best batsman for Chattogram apart from these two is the skipper Mohammad Mithun who scored only 164 runs in eight innings with an unimpressive strike rate of 113. So middle order did not contribute much in their Bangabandhu T20 Cup campaign which will be a major cause of concern for them. Their weakness in the middle order was exposed in the first qualifier when both Liton and Soumya failed to make big scores on a big chase. Chattogram coach Mohammad Salahuddin will want his middle-order batsmen to rise to the occasion if the openers fail to deliver.
Battle of the quicks
A lot will depend on the fast bowlers of the two sides. Gazi Group Chattogram have inarguably the best pace attack in the tournament. Mustafizur Rahman is by far the best bowler in the tournament, having picked up 21 wickets in nine games at an average of 10.4. He conceded only 6.28 runs per over despite being the designated death bowler and may well bag the player of the tournament award too. He's been well-complimented by Shoriful Islam, the under-19 World Cup-winning left-arm quick. He has picked up 14 wickets and is among the top five wicket-takers in the tournament.
The seam attack of Khulna is quite strong too and the inclusion of the veteran Mashrafe Mortaza only strengthened the side. The 37-year old used his variations to great effect and picked up seven wickets in three matches including a five-wicket haul against the same opposition they are going to face in the final. Youngster Hasan Mahmud has been superb with the ball, especially keeping the batsmen quiet at the death. He has picked up 10 wickets too. Al-Amin Hossain has been slightly off-colour in the tournament but his experience will also be a key factor.
Head to head:
Gazi Group Chattogram: 2
Gemcon Khulna: 1