Dhaka Dynamites had everything a T20 team would want in their arsenal to win the final of the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL). Yesterday, however, Comilla Victorians had something better in the form of a single player. Opener Tamim Iqbal played perhaps the best innings of the sixth edition -- which contained hundreds from Ab de Villiers, Alex Hales and Evin Lewis -- and virtually single-handedly won the trophy for his side as Comilla beat Dhaka by 17 runs in a highly entertaining finale at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium last night.
It was a truly worthy final played on a belter of a wicket in front of a jam-packed Mirpur crowd, who were awestruck with Tamim's clean hitting during an unbeaten 61-ball 141, the second-highest individual score in the BPL after Rangpur Riders opener Chris Gayle's 146 in the final of the last edition against Dhaka.
Tamim was the dominant force in Comilla's 199 for three and, despite a start worthy of the name Dynamite, Dhaka ran out of steam and ended on 182 for nine after 20 overs. Rony Talukdar threatened to show up Tamim with a 38-ball 66 and built a 102-run second-wicket partnership with Upul Tharanga in just 8.2 overs. But Tharanga's wicket in the last ball of the ninth over -- caught at long on off Thisara Perera for a 27-ball 48 -- changed the match. Tamim was fantastic on the field as well, running in from mid on towards cover to catch Dhaka skipper Shakib Al Hasan off Wahab Riaz, and also taking the crucial catch of Kieron Pollard -- another running take from long on off the same bowler.
The fight was all but snuffed out of the Dynamites as Rony became the fourth to depart when he was caught short trying to go for a quick single by Comilla keeper Anamul Haque. That left the score on 121 for four in the 13th over, and when Dhaka's all-round duo of Andre Russell and Pollard followed suit, Comilla's second trophy was all but confirmed.
Earlier, after Dhaka won the toss, Tamim seemed to be batting on a different wicket than his teammates. While the 61 deliveries Tamim faced fetched 141 runs, the other batsmen -- Evin Lewis, Anamul Haque, Shamsur Rahman and skipper Imrul Kayes -- scored a combined 47 runs from 59 deliveries.
Tamim had never before hit a century in the BPL and he had never before played in the final of the tournament. He crossed both those achievements off his list in emphatic fashion, but before he could he had Dhaka keeper Nurul Hasan -- arguably the best gloveman in the country -- to thank as he grassed a tough chance when the left-hander was on 24 in the eighth over bowled by Qazi Onik. Tamim had another hairy moment on 33 in the ninth over when he danced down the track and miscued a hoick towards Andre Russell at long on, but replays showed the ball to have bounced just in front of the diving Jamaican's fingers.
That was about it for the rub of the green as Tamim created his own luck from then on, and the next 107 runs were chanceless. He reached his fifty off 31 balls, and it is a measure of just how explosive a mood he was in that the next 30 deliveries yielded 91 runs. Anamul Haque's share in an 89-run second-wicket partnership in 61 balls was a modest 24 off 31 deliveries. He was trapped in front by Shakib in the 12th over and Shamsur Rahman was run out for a duck in the next over, but Tamim's dominance was not to subside -- he put on an unbeaten 100-run fourth-wicket stand with skipper Imrul Kayes in 46 balls, and Imrul's contribution was 17 off 21 balls.
While there were some top-edged fours from Tamim, a large majority of his 10 fours and 11 sixes were off the middle of the bat. 85 runs came off the last six overs, of which Tamim -- who was hitting Rubel, Russell and Shakib for towering sixes as if at will -- scored 71. Rubel was hit for two sixes and two fours in the 15th over, and Russell suffered a repeat in the 17th, which was the over that Tamim brought up his third T20 ton with a pulled boundary off the third ball, his 50th, after hitting the first for six. He celebrated with gusto, showing how much the innings and the final meant to him. Perhaps he also knew that it would have to be him who slayed the behemoth that is the Dhaka Dynamites -- and he succeeded in the end.