Ariful Haque’s brilliant knock under pressure handed Khulna Titans victory against Mushfiqur Rahim’s Rajshahi Kings.
Ariful struck a 19-ball 43 to deliver Khulna Titans' fourth victory in this year’s BPL after Rajshahi Kings posted 166 runs on the board.
Khulna Titans did not start their chase of 169 runs in commanding fashion as they lost two quick wickets inside three overs. Mohammed Sami removed opener Chadwick Walton in the very first over as an inside edge crashed into the stumps before taking the scalp of Seekkuge Prasanna, out leg-before in his second over.
Khulna skipper Mahmudullah Riyad came in and started his innings brightly, hitting Sami for four before hitting Hossain Ali for back-to-back boundaries in the fourth over. He took the reigns of the Khulna innings and powered his innings with some lovely shots. Mahmudullah, along with Rilee Rossouw, put on a 62-run partnership for the third wicket before the latter fell in the 11th over to Mehedi Hasan Miraz. Mahmudullah reached his fifty in 36 balls but Rajshahi Kings came back into the game when Hossain dismissed the experienced campaigner Mahmudullah for a 44-ball 56.
Once Mahmudullah fell in the 14th over, the game tipped in Rajshahi’s favour as Khulna lost two more wickets in quick succession -- those of Nazmul Hasan Shanto and Carlos Brathwaite.
Ariful Haque came to the crease in the 15th over and his innings took the game away from the Rajshahi Kings. With Titans needing 36 runs from three overs, Ariful got stuck into Hossain in the 18th over, picking up 18 runs with a six and two fours. Titans were eight down and they needed nine runs more with Dwayne Smith coming in to bowl the last over. Ariful hit the first ball of the over -- a low full toss, over deep square leg for six. He then shuffled across towards his off stump and scooped Smith towards fine leg for four in the second delivery to win the game for the Titans.
Earlier, Some fantastic batting from Rajshahi Kings opener Smith and skipper Mushfiqur Rahim helped Rajshahi Kings post 168 runs on the board for the loss of eight wickets against Khulna Titans.
The Darren Sammy-led Rajshahi Kings were in early trouble as they lost three wickets in the space of three overs against Mahmudullah Riyad’s Khulna Titans.
Mominul Haque had some impressive outings in this season’s BPL but this time he departed as early as the second over, falling to Junaid Khan. The Pakistan pacer than removed Daniel Bell-Drummond two deliveries later, out bowled after the batsman dragged a delivery onto his stumps.
Seekugge Prasanna then took an outstanding catch while diving backwards as Abu Jayed took the scalp of Zakir Hasan.
Mushfiqur then came out to bat and he and Smith changed the complexion and the momentum of the Rajshahi innings with some outstanding strokes. Mushfiqur announced his entrance when he hit Junaid for four off the first delivery he faced.
Smith took on Carlos Brathwaite and hit him for a six and two back-to-back fours in the sixth over. The Smith rampage ended in the 11th over but not before he scored a smashing a 36-ball 62, an innings that featured seven fours and four sixes.
Mushfiqur continued his destructive batting and reached his fifty in just 27 balls. He fell in the 16th over trying to sweep Abu Jayed but only managed to loop it towards midwicket where Ariful took a comfortable catch. Strike bowler Junaid returned to remove the dangerous skipper Sammy in the 18th over as he too gave a catch to Ariful.
Junaid also bowled Mohammed Sami and was the pick of the Khulna bowlers as he picked up four wickets for 27 runs from his four overs.