Sunil Narine suddenly turned into a regular opener in T20 cricket in the Indian Premier League (IPL) a few seasons back. The all-rounder had not been in great form lately but on the big night of the second qualifiers against Chattogram Challengers, Narine, the opener, pulled off what he is known for. His record-breaking half century helped Comilla Victorians rack up an easy seven-wicket win and seal a spot in the final of the ongoing Bangabandhu Bangladesh Premier League (BPL).
Chasing 148, Narine was in a marauding mood right from the first ball he faced. Liton Das went back in the first ball of Comilla's innings but Narine smashed two fours and a six in the same over to make his intentions clear.
Narine smashed the bowlers all over the park - over extra cover, deep midwicket and down the ground - to race to 46 off 11 in no time. He had a chance to notch up the fastest fifty in T20 history but the southpaw took a single in the 12th ball.
But Narine reached his fifty off 13 deliveries and it was the joint second-fastest fifty in T20s with Marcus Trescothick. It was, of course, the fastest one in BPL history. He fell soon after the fifty but had already done the damage.
There were good contributions from Imrul Kayes (22 off 24), Faf du Plessis (30* off 23) and Moeen Ali (30* off 13) and Comilla reached the target with 43 balls to spare.
Earlier, Chattogram Challengers, bolstered by the return of the in-form Will Jacks, were the happier side at the toss and got off to a flying start. They were 30 for none after three overs.
Shohidul Islam, who returned three for 25 in the previous match, struck in his first over to send Jacks back to the shed. The right-hander was beaten by an inswinger and top-edged the next ball to Imrul Kayes at cover. Jacks made 16 off nine.
Chadwick Walton, the player of the match of the previous game, fell cheaply in the next over to Tanvir Islam. Moeen Ali came to bowl the last over of the powerplay and straightaway got rid of Zakir Hasan and Shamim Hossain in consecutive deliveries to put Chattogram on the back foot.
Chattogram suddenly lost three wickets in a space of 15 balls and were 43 for four at the end of the powerplay.
Afif Hossain's poor run of form continued as he could not make more than a run-a-ball 10, leaving Chattogram in a big hole at 50 for five.
Onus was on Akbar Ali and Mehidy Hasan Miraz to do a bit of consolidation and they did that pretty well. Akbar was the more aggressive of the two in the partnership. The wicketkeeper-batter was excellent against the spinners - Moeen and Tanvir - before getting out for an enterprising 33 off 20. The partnership between him and Miraz yielded 61 runs in just 6.4 overs.
Benny Howell was unfortunately run-out shortly after that which meant Miraz had the responsibility of giving a strong finish. But after hitting a six in the second delivery in the penultimate over, Miraz perished in the next ball scoring 44 off 38.
Mrittunjoy Chowdhury smashed two sixes in the same over to stretch the total to 148. Shohidul picked up three wickets for 33.