The best match of the Bangladesh Premier League's sixth edition took place on the best wicket so far and coincided with the largest crowd in Mirpur, which witnessed history as a bowler doing the low-profile first-division rounds just last year became the first to take a hattrick on BPL debut yesterday. At the end of it all, the first match of the tournament's first Friday ended in a twist-filled two-run win off the last ball for a rampant Dhaka Dynamites, who were given their toughest examination yet by defending Champions Rangpur Riders.
The second match was not quite as exciting and nowhere near as high-scoring as Rajshahi Kings stumbled to their third defeat in four games, going down by five wickets with eight balls to spare to Comilla Victorians. Former Pakistan all-rounder Shahid Afridi was the star of the show, breaking the Kings' backs with a lethal spell of three wickets for 10 runs off four overs.
In the first game, star-studded Dhaka, who have now won all of their three matches so far, owed the win to their least experienced member in off-spinner and debutant Aliss Al Islam, who turned the nightmare of dropping two of the simplest chances into the triumph of a match-winning hattrick on debut.
After Dhaka rode on a 26-ball 62 from big-hitting Kieron Pollard to post 183 for six, Rangpur's hopes were dealt a big blow when West Indian opener Chris Gayle was dismissed by the best combined fielding -- coincidentally by West Indians -- display of the tournament so far. Gayle hit Shuvagata Hom in the air towards the long off boundary where Andre Russell -- airborne and falling backwards over the rope -- caught the ball and chucked it back to Pollard just before making contact with the ground.
However, a 121-run third-wicket stand between Mohammad Mithun and Rilee Roussow put Rangpur in command when Aliss was called upon by Dhaka skipper Shakib Al Hasan to bowl the 16th over, which started with the score on 142 for two. His confidence may not have been very high as in the eighth over he dropped the simplest of chances at short fine leg to reprieve Mithun twice -- on 16 and 17 -- off Shuvagata.
Aliss landed the ball in good areas and varied the turn just enough to beat the flailing bat, which is what led to Roussow being stumped for a 44-ball 83. Shakib dismissed Ravi Bopara cheaply in the next over, but it was the 18th over that truly turned the match. Off the third ball, Aliss managed to drift one away to beat Mithun's slog-sweep and rattle timber, off the fourth he did that to Rangpur skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, who had to wait for the third umpire's signal because the ball just kissed the leg bail and dislodged it before the keeper attempted a stumping. The historic hattrick was completed by perhaps the best ball of the lot -- pitching on off and spinning less than Forhad Reza expected to take the edge towards first slip where Shakib, to his credit given the state of the match, had positioned himself for just that outcome.
From 146 for two in the 16th and requiring just 38 runs from 22 balls before Roussow was out, Rangpur crashed to 170 for nine at the end of the 19th over which saw Sunil Narine dismissing Shohag Gazi and Benny Howell. There was another twist as number 10 Shafiul Islam started the last over by cracking two boundaries off Aliss, but the 23-year-old rookie kept his cool and allowed just two more to be scored off the last four balls.
In the second match, new Rajshahi skipper Mehedi Hasan Miraz continued to take responsibility by opening the batting after scoring a 50 from number three in the Kings' lone win in the last match and scored 30 but he was the first of Afridi's victims and started the slide. They fell to 63 for seven but recovered to 124 all out through a 27 from Zakir Hasan and 32 from Isuru Udana.
It was not enough, however, to stop the Victorians -- led by Imrul Kayes in the absence of injured skipper Steven Smith -- from riding on a good start from Anamul Haque, Evin Lewis and Tamim Iqbal to notch their second win in three matches. Player-of-the-match Afridi finished the match in perfect fashion with a six over point off Mustafizur Rahman.