Abahani start celebrations
Mashrafe Bin Mortaza produced yet another dazzling display as Abahani all but confirmed their hattrick of titles with an emphatic 76-run victory over Partex in a rain-hit Premier Division Cricket Super League match at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur yesterday.
Mathematically it may not be possible to declare Abahani champions at the moment but the players, fans and officials of the popular Dhanmondi outfit joined in an on-field celebration after their victory that not only gave them a four-point advantage from their nearest rivals Surjo Torun with two more matches in hand but also enabled them to enjoy an unassailable 'better run-rate'.
Even if Surjo Torun finish on equal 26 points with Abahani, which is an unlikely proposition, it is virtually impossible for them to reduce the gulf of difference of run-rates. Besides, they will have to beat Abahani, who not only won the first round clash between the two teams but also have lost only one game, against Gazi Tank, in the entire league so far.
It was a job well done and Abahani's inspirational captain Mashrafe, who will not take any further part in the league due to his commitments in the IPL, said after the match that he was very happy for winning the title for Abahani twice.
"We confirmed the championship by winning today's (Tuesday's) game. I'm really delighted because it's a major success in my career as a captain," said an excited Mashrafe, who also won the League for Abahani as a player two years ago.
The Bangladesh vice-captain, who is expected to fly to India tomorrow to join the Kolkata Knight Riders, made sure that he was part of his side's celebration with an explosive 33-ball 62 that was followed by two wickets in front of the jubilant Sky Blue fans that created a festive atmosphere by beating drums throughout the match.
But credit also must go to Indian batsman Rashmi Ranjan Parida who provided the platform for his skipper's late fireworks with a polished knock that saw Abahani recover from 61-4 to a challenging 238-6 in a reduced to 41-over a-side affair.
Pacer Mohammad Azim caused the early damage by picking up the first four wickets but once again Parida showed his character during an unbeaten 91-ball 89 that featured eye-pleasing seven boundaries and a six.
Right-hander Parida got company from Arafat Sunny to repair the damage. The pair put on 70 runs for the fifth wicket and then it was Mashrafe who joined the Indian to put the opponent bowlers to the sword.
Fresh from a hurricane 69 against Mohammedan that contained seven sixes, the right-hander smashed four sixes and as many boundaries yesterday and it was amazing to watch the way he whacked left-arm spinner Abdur Razzak over extra-cover.
Razzak was however unlucky as Ariful Haque failed to hold on to an easy catch at mid-on when Mashrafe was 38.
In reply, Partex got off to a confident start before Shahadat Hossain gave the breakthrough by removing former national opener Mehrab Hossain who offered a catch to Tamim Iqbal at square leg after scoring a run-a-ball 17 that contained three fours.
Ariful Haque joined Pakistani Fahad Ul Haque to threaten Abahani but again Mashrafe provided the much-needed breakthrough by removing Ariful for 36.
Fahad, who scored 63 off 80 deliveries with six boundaries, held one end up but with wickets falling like ninepins at the other end Partex were bundled out for 162 runs in 33.2 overs.
Partex, however, fell victims to two poor umpiring decisions against national wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim and Rezaul Haque. Both players were adjudged caught behind but the decisions did not convince anybody except umpires Murshed Ali Khan and Nadir Shah.
Left-arm spinner Sunny claimed four wickets for 20 for Abahani. And his captain praised his effort after the match.
"I think it's a team effort but still I would like to give special credit to Nasir (Hossain), Sunny (Arafat) and Nadif (Chowdhury) who really showed their characters when our medium pacers were missing due to injuries in the last few games. But I must say we won all but one game because of team spirit," said Mashrafe.
Asked about the secret of his success, the brave-heart cricketer, who took 28 wickets and scored heavily batting down the order, said: "I always give my hundred percent on a cricket field even if it is a tape-tennis competition."
ABAHANI: 238-6 in 41 overs (Tamim 23, Imran 18, Parida 89 not out, Sunny 27, Mashrafe 62, extras 10; Azim 4-36, Faruk 1-54, Tariq 1-21)
PARTEX: 162 all out in 33.2 overs (Mehrab 17, Fahad 63, Ariful 36, Mushfiqur 10, extras 6; Shahadat 1-27, Mashrafe 2-43, Talha 2-27, Manosh 1-11, Sunny 4-20).
Result: Abahani won by 76 runs.