It was a one-man show by West Indian firebrand Chris Gayle as his blistering hundred in the final saw Rangpur Riders lift the trophy of the fifth edition of the Bangladesh Premier League with a 57-run victory against defending champions Dhaka Dynamites at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur yesterday.
It was a day when the opposition could only sit back and watch something exceptional unfold from a true entertainer, who made and broke records. He hit the most in a T20 innings with 18 sixes, became the first to reach 11,000 T20 runs and became the first to smash a century of sixes in the history of the Bangladesh Premier League.
The 38-year-old smashed his 20th T20 hundred, second in the ongoing tournament and first-ever in a final, leaving even a player like Brendon McCullum as a mere spectator.
The left-hander remained unbeaten on a 69-ball 146 while Brendon McCullum was not out on 51 off 43 as the pair added 201 runs for the second-wicket, which was the highest partnership in the history of the BPL.
Rangpur posted a huge 206 for one in 20 overs and it was none other than Gayle who stepped in to bowl the final over of the tournament in another dose of his showmanship. Dhaka needed 60 off that over and helplessly surrendered the chase on 149 for 9 in their allotted overs.
Shakib Al Hasan will definitely have a sleepless night after dropping a straightforward catch at cover when Gayle was on just 22, a mistake he perhaps never thought could be so costly.
Apart from Jahurul Islam's fifty, Shakib added 26 as Dhaka's star-studded batting line-up were made to look ordinary, losing wickets right from the start of the chase in the all-important final.
Off-spinner Sohag Gazi, Isuru Udana and left-arm spinner Nazmul Islam took two wickets for Rangpur as Mashrafe Bin Mortaza lifted the BPL trophy for the fourth time in his fourth final appearance in five BPL editions.
Earlier Rangpur looked to be in trouble after losing previous game centurion Johnson Charles for three, but after that it was simply a Gayle storm that kept the stadium on their feet till the end of the innings.
The left-hander, who didn't hit a six until the 15th ball he faced, was unstoppable after getting that lifeline and reached his fifty off just 33 balls and continued to wallop Dhaka's bowlers all over the park.
I am not thinking of a comeback [from T20I retirement] first of all and secondly it is futile to hold a grudge. As I am playing a lot of people are watching me. When I play I don't let the fact that I am playing T20s affect me because if I think like that it will affect my team and the young cricketers will get wrong message. I always try to give my hundred per cent whenever I play and don't make any plans for future. Our message to Gayle and McCullum was just go and play as they like to play their shots. Although they (Gayle-McCullum) were watchful in the first 10 overs, once they got set they played according to the plan. The aim is to play with freedom, no restrictions, and nobody blames anyone — that's very important. If someone asks me as a captain to choose one player in this format I would definitely choose Gayle first.
Rangpur Riders skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza answers a question about a possible T20I comeback and explains Rangpur Riders' success this season.
The catch [of Gayle] that I dropped [was the reason for the loss].. We couldn't bowl that well and against Gayle I think we were unable to bowl in good areas enough. Maybe if we got one or two more opportunities we might have done something but the chance never came. Overall we had a good tournament where our first target was to reach the final, which we did. We had a lot of ups and downs this year. Overall we had a good season. You can't judge a team properly only from the final match. In this tournament us and Comilla Victorians were very consistent and two batsmen [Gayle, Johnson Charles] won three game for them [Rangpur Riders] at a crucial time and they also had McCullum. There is hardly anything to do if someone plays like this. This is the beauty of T20 — one or two batsmen can change the course of the game.
Dhaka Dynamites captain Shakib Al Hasan puts the blame for the loss on the catch he dropped with Gayle on 22 and looks back on Dhaka's campaign.