Mashrafe's best destroys Comilla

Rangpur Riders captain Mashrafe Mortaza
Mashrafe Bin Mortaza celebrates one of his four wickets. Photo: Firoz Ahmed

Rangpur Riders skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza's best T20 bowling figures set up a dominant nine-wicket win in their Bangladesh Premier League match against Comilla Victorians at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur. It was meant to be a slobberknocker of a contest between two star-studded sides, but Mashrafe's brilliance virtually decided the contest by the end of the sixth over of the game, and less than two hours later the defending champions were celebrating a win with 48 balls to spare.

Mashrafe bowled with fire as Comilla Victorians were spellbound by his magnificent spell, losing five wickets for just 18 runs in seven overs. Rangpur never recovered from that, falling to 27 for six before eventually being all out for 63 -- the fourth lowest total in Bangladesh Premier League history. Mashrafe bagged four wickets for just 11 runs from his four overs, eclipsing his previous best bowling figures in the shortest format of the game -- four for 19 against Ireland in Belfast in July 2012. 

In Rangpur's chase of the paltry total, all eyes were on West Indian Universe Boss Chris Gayle to see if he unleashes the beast and chases down the total in a ridiculously low number of overs, but he was caught behind off left-arm pacer Abu Hider in the third over for one. That was the lone wicket to fall with the score on 14 as opener Mehedi Maruf (36 off 39) and Rilee Rossouw (20 off 28) batted sensibly, taking their time to take the team home with eight overs to spare. 

Earlier, the match was expected to be one where two big teams with destructive batters slugging it out. Evening matches have also produced big scores, but Mashrafe had other plans.

The paceman, who recently became an elected Bangladesh MP, bowled with venom and the wickets he bagged left top quality batters in his wake. Tamim Iqbal, Imrul Kayes, Evin Lewis and Steve Smith fell in his spell, all finding it difficult to get him away.

Tamim was the first. Mashrafe had missed his bails by just a shade when Tamim went down the track to his previous delivery. His tight line kept Comilla on the ropes and Tamim played it straight to the man at mid-on in the next delivery.

A delivery rose sharply while Imrul was facing the Narail Express and it hit the left-hander on the gloves, resulting in a pause in play as the batsman tended to his sore fingers. Imrul did not last long, top-edging Mash to point before Evin Lewis was holed out at long-off trying to hit big.

The experienced Steve Smith was his last victim. The batsman was bamboozled by a slower delivery and played it early, resulting in a easy catch to mid-off. Comilla, despite bolstering a fantastic batting lineup only accumulated 18 runs in the Powerplay as Mashrafe's guile proved decisive in the high-voltage matchup. He finished with figures of four for 11 with a wicket maiden to his name in the fifth over. 

Shafiul Islam bowled another wicket maiden in the following over, the sixth, taking the wicket of Shoaib Malik. Mashrafe then dismissed Smith in the next over.

Left-arm spinner Nazmul Islam was the other successful bowler with three wickets for 20 runs.