Bowlers keep Khulna afloat
Khulna Titans' bowlers, led by left-arm spinner Taijul Islam, delivered a 25-run win over Rajshahi Kings in the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) match at the Sylhet International Stadium. It was Khulna's first win in their fifth match this season and was badly needed in order to have a chance to make the playoffs.
On a slow wicket, Khulna scored 128 for nine and with the help of Taijul's three wickets for 10 runs from four overs, bundled Rajshahi out for 103 in 19.5 overs. It was the lowest total successfully defended in this edition of the BPL. Taijul's wickets and skipper Mahmudullah Riyad's two for 12 broke Rajshahi's backs as they stumbled to have them reeling on 47 for five in the ninth over. Left-arm pacer Junaid Khan (3-26) and right-arm pacer David Weise then ensured that Rajshahi would not recover.
Earlier, Khulna chose to bat at the toss, but the lack of momentum in Khulna's innings was best represented by the fact that the run rate did not touch seven even once after they ended the first six Powerplay overs on a promising 44 for two. Jahurul Islam gave them a fast start with a six-ball 13 before upper-cutting Isuru Udana straight to third man in the second over. Junaid Siddique and Dawid Malan continued the attack with the former striking Mehedi for a six over midwicket in the third over and the latter striking Kamrul Islam Rabbi for a brace of boundaries in the next over. But when Junaid missed a hoick and was bowled by Mehedi in the third ball of the fifth over, he took the momentum with him.
The eight overs after Junaid's dismissal produced no boundaries for Khulna, but gave Rajshahi the wickets of Dawid Malan -- trapped in front by Mehdi in the eighth -- and Mahmudullah Riyad, who was caught at deep midwicket in the 11th over off Arafat Sunny in an attempt to release the mounting pressure. Khulna were strangled by a combination of tight bowling from Mehedi, Sunny, Soumya Sarkar and Mustafizur Rahman and a pitch that unexpected grip.
Mahmudullah's wicket made it 65 for four and it only got worse when Nazmul Hossain Shanto was run out at the striker's end by a direct hit after Carlos Brathwaite nudged a ball towards point and the duo decided to scamper a single in the 13th over. Brathwaite broke the boundary drought two balls later with a swept four off Sunny, but he was the sixth man out with the score on 82 in the same over, trapped in front by an arm ball.
That was when Ariful Haque played the most valuable hand of the innings, a 27-ball 26 which lifted the score above the 120-mark. In between, Udana claimed the wicket of David weise in the 19th over. Mustafizur made sure that there would be no late flourish in a last over that yielded just three runs and the wickets of Ariful Islam, caught at mid on, and Taijul Islam, who was brilliantly run out by the bowler who had just one stump to aim at at the non-striker's end.