Dhaka, Rangpur to fight for title today
After more than a month of high-octane, if at times mismanaged, cricket the Bangladesh Premier League's fifth edition will come to a close today with the final played between defending champions Dhaka Dynamites and Rangpur Riders, who beat Comilla Victorians yesterday in Qualifier 2 at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur.
The match is expected to start at 6:00pm and the weather, which played foul on Sunday and caused the Rangpur-Comilla qualifier to be continued into yesterday, is expected to be favourable with no rain forecast this evening.
The Dynamites, led by Shakib Al Hasan, finished the group stage in second place and earned themselves a one-way ticket to the title match by beating Comilla in Qualifier-1 on Friday. Rangpur took the scenic route as the Mashrafe Bin Mortaza-led outfit had to overcome a disappointing start to the season to rally midway through the tournament through the efforts of the skipper and foreign stalwarts like Chris Gayle, Brendon McCullum and Johnson Charles, who helped dump Comilla out of the event with a century yesterday. Before that, they had to play the Eliminator on Friday against third-placed Khulna Titans, when Gayle hit a thunderous, unbeaten 51-ball 126 to settle the issue.
If Dhaka manage to win the tournament today, it will be the fourth time that a Dhaka outfit has won the event, with the first two editions going to the now-disbanded Dhaka Gladiators. It will also be the icing on the cake for Shakib, who was named Bangladesh's new Test captain on Sunday. Rangpur have never won the title, but Mashrafe did lead Comilla Victorians to the trophy in 2015.
Rangpur's place in the final has some controversy associated with it as, according to the tournament bylaws, the higher ranked team would progress in a playoff situation if at least five overs of both innings could not be completed because of weather interruptions and a Super Over could not be played for the same reason. In that respect, Comilla as the top-ranked group finishers could have gone through, but according to the governing council the management of both teams decided to continue the match yesterday.