Khulna Tigers avenged their defeat in the Dhaka phase against Chattogram Challengers and notched up their second victory in the ongoing Bangabandhu Bangladesh Premier League (BPL). At the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chattogram, the hosts were beaten convincingly by six wickets by Khulna. With this win, they joined the top two teams on four points.
The required run-rate remained manageable for Khulna all the time courtesy of the fifty-run stand for the second wicket between Andre Fletcher and Mushfiqur Rahim. Fletcher (58 off 47) left the job unfinished but it was Mushfiqur who showed his class and experience to get his team across the line. Chattogram got off to a fine start with the bat but lost the momentum after the partnership between Will Jacks and Afif Hossain was broken.
While chasing 144, Soumya Sarkar, in his first match in this tournament, played his favourite flick shot first up but mistimed it and the ball deposited into the hands of Howell. But after his early fall, Andre Fletcher and Rony Talukdar steadied the ship with a fifty-run partnership.
But the eighth over of the match was a dramatic one. Rony Talukdar made the best use of the ADRS to save himself and a couple of balls later holed out at the boundary. The right-hander made a run-a-ball 17.
Fletcher worked his way to fifty off 43 deliveries and kept Khulna in the chase. But right after his fifty, he threw his wicket away. The right-hander hit Miraz for a six but mistimed one in the very next ball and holed out at long-on. Fletcher made 58. Khulna needed 42 off the last five overs with seven wickets remaining.
Mushfiqur then shouldered the responsibility of guiding his team home. He struck three fours off Shoriful - cover drive, pull and late cut - and brought the required run-rate down to six an over.
Sekkuge Prasanna (23 off 15) hit some big blows before getting dismissed to hasten the victory. Mushfiqur remained unbeaten on 44 off 30.
Earlier, Chattogram had a decent powerplay although they lost Kennar Lewis early. Afif Hossain and Will Jacks put pressure on the bowlers by picking up boundaries and rotating the strike regularly. At the six-over mark, they were 46 for one.
The 57-run partnership between Jacks and Afif came to an end in the ninth over as the former was outfoxed by a slower delivery out of the back of the hands from Thisara Perera. Jacks scored 28 off 23 balls.
Both Sabbir Rahman and Mehidy Hasan Miraz went for extravagant shots but mistimed it and were caught at the boundary. From a great position, Chattogram were suddenly in a bit of trouble at 84 for four after 12.
The in-form Howell was undone by another slower one from Perera in the next over.
Afif played the role of the accumulator and watched his teammates going back to the shed one after one. But lack of partners prompted him to go for a lofted shot and that led to his undoing. Farhad Reza claimed his wicket in the 15th over. Afif made 44 off 37 with the help of three fours and two maximums.
Khulna pulled things back with regular wickets but the 20th over which yielded 17 runs gave Chattogram a fighting total to defend. Naeem Islam hit a six and a four in the last two balls of the innings and steered his team to 143 for eight. Naeem was unbeaten on 25 off 19.
Perera picked up three wickets giving away only 18 runs in his quota of four overs.