Young paceman Hossain Ali was intelligent enough to bowl it full and straight and hit the middle stump after Mahmudullah Riyad missed the first two deliveries that were full and outside off. The 19-year-old right-arm paceman from Narsingdi, who already gained attention with his pace and smooth action, thus ended the Khulna Titans skipper's pivotal knock of 56 to bring Rajshahi Kings back into contention in the 13th over.
But it was Khulna local hero Ariful Haque who was the difference-maker in chasing down Rajshahi's total of 166 with two wickets and four balls in hand in an exciting Bangladesh Premier League match at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur yesterday. “Unbelievable the way Ariful played,” was the appreciation from Mahmudullah after the 25-year old batsman from Rangpur showed his big-hitting ability during unbeaten 19-ball 43 that contained four boundaries and two sixes.
Nazmul Hossain, Carlos Brathwaite and Shafiul Islam were dismissed cheaply after Mahmudullah's departure, and the Titans needed 36 from 18. The task was a tough one for a lower-middle order batsman but Ariful found his target in Hossain and secured 18 runs in the 18th. Ariful found a gap between cover and mid-off to hit first boundary off the first ball; he hammered a drive right back at the bowler and lofted a ball over mid-off for six to enthral the crowds and team adviser and national selector Habibul Bashar. “I must say he was amazing. His best asset is his courage. Actually it was so fantastic to watch this match as our local boys like Mushfiqur Rahim, Hossain Ali, Riyad and Ariful played so well,” said Bashar.
“I targeted that over. Hossain tried to block while I tried to hit and in the end I was successful. I was confident about scoring 36 runs from the last three overs,” said Ariful, who loves T20 cricket the most. He did manage the feat, scoring 36 of the last 37 runs -- the other one being a wide -- off just 13 balls. “Advice from coach Mahela Jayawardene really helped in my batting.”
Player-of-the-match Ariful finished the chase in style with the help of some terrible bowling from Dwayne Smith when nine was needed from the last over.
The first ball was a low full toss down leg and Ariful punished it over deep square leg, followed by a scoop for four past short fine leg off the next ball, another full toss, to confirm Titans' fourth win in seven matches.
Earlier, Mahmudullah set the foundation during his 44-ball 56 that saw eight eye-catching boundaries and a six after Pakistani paceman Mohammad Sami provided two early breakthroughs. James Franklin was the other Rajshahi bowler to put Titans in a spot of bother, taking two wickets in the middle.
Rajshahi managed 166 for eight thanks to opener Dwayne Smith's 36-ball 62 that featured seven fours and four sixes and Mushfiqur's 33-ball 55 with four fours and three sixes after they were reduced to 21 for three in 5.3 overs.
In the end the total was not good enough to defend but produced a good game to watch.