Shakib Al Hasan's all-round performance guided defending champion Dhaka Dynamites to a comfortable 43-run win over Rangpur Riders and confirmed the defending champions' second-placed finish at the end of the group stage of the Bangladesh Premier League at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur yesterday.
The Dynamites successfully managed to defend the small target of 138 as Rangpur eventually ended the chase on 97 for seven.
Both Dhaka and Khulna Titans have seven wins in 12 games but with a better net run rate Dhaka have ensured that they will get two chances to qualify for the final of the fifth edition.
Dhaka will take on table-toppers Comilla Victorians in the first qualifier on Friday, with the winner going through to the final and the losing team playing the second qualifier against the winner of the eliminator between Rangpur Riders and Khulna Titans.
Rangpur rested their regular skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza and Brendon McCullum led the side which featured seven changes while Dhaka also made four changes.
Electing to bat, Dhaka's batsmen struggled to play strokes on a slow pitch and were reeling on 48 for five inside 10 overs. Opener Evin Lewis, who was frustrated and unable to chance his arms, was eventually dismissed in the 10th over after scoring 14 off 18 balls.
Shakib, who was unable to make an impact with the bat before yesterday's innings, added 55 runs for the sixth wicket with Mehedi Maruf.
Mehedi however departed after scoring 33 off 23 balls with three fours and a six but Shakib remained unbeaten on 47 off 33 balls which included a couple of sixes and as many fours as Dhaka added 52 runs in the last five overs to post 137 for seven.
Fast bowler Ebadat Hossain picked up two wickets on BPL debut but was expensive, conceding 37 runs, and Rubel Hossain also took two wickets for the bowling side.
In reply, Rangpur never looked comfortable as Adam Lyth (3), McCullum (1) and Shahriar Nafees (7) failed early while opener Johnson Charles, who looked compact before being dealt a controversial leg-before decision off a Shakib delivery that hit the inside edge on its way to the pad, fell for a 30-ball 26.
Another controversial decision came against right hander Mohammad Mithun when he was given out leg-before after coming down the track to Shakib.
Ravi Bopara remained unbeaten on 28 at the end but could not take Ranpur anywhere close to the modest target.
Player-of-the-match Shakib bagged two wickets for just 13 runs from his four overs while pacer Abu Hider also took a couple for Dhaka.