Even halfway through the final-round matches of the Dhaka Premier League (DPL), the Legends of Rupganj dugout looked happy and hopeful of clinching the title for the first time. Rupganj posted a mammoth 327 for four and looked all set to register a big win over Prime Bank Cricket Club at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur yesterday. Meanwhile, Abahani -- the only thorn in the path of Rupganj’s maiden title -- had a mountain to climb after Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club posted 317 for nine.
However, perhaps no one had imagined that Rupganj’s bright day would turn bleak because of one player named Soumya Sarkar, who became the first Bangladeshi to score a double-century in List A cricket to help Abahani win by nine wickets in the title decider against Sheikh Jamal. Abahani’s win meant that even an 88-run victory by Rupganj would only produce two points and not the title.
Even after hitting a century in Abahani’s last match on Sunday against Rupganj, many doubted whether Soumya could continued his good work as the left-hander has a history of inconsistency. However, it was truly his day as in chase of a mammoth total, Soumya’s unbeaten 208 off 153 balls was perfectly paced according to the requirement of the game. Soumya smashed 16 sixes -- the highest by any batsmen in DPL history -- and 14 boundaries on way to scripting the epic.
The left-hander was well supported by Jahurul Islam at the other end, as the duo strung together a record 312-run opening stand -- the highest partnership for any wicket in DPL history. By the time Jahurul was dismissed in the 46th over after scoring 100 off 128 balls, it was all too late for Sheikh Jamal, as well as Rupganj, who were hoping for Abahani to fail. Soumya remained unbeaten and it was fitting that the winning runs also came from the 26-year-old’s bat as he struck Taijul Islam for a six off the first ball of the 48th over and ensured the title defenders ended up as title holders.
Earlier, Tanbir Hayder’s praiseworthy unbeaten 132 off 115 balls helped Sheikh Jamal to the mammoth total.
Before Soumya had shattered Rupganj’s titled dreams, the Legends started off brilliantly against Prime Bank. The two Rupganj openers -- Mehedi Maruf and Mohammad Naim -- put on a 129-run opening partnership in just 18.4 overs before Mehedi was dismissed following his 54. Naim kept on building on the good work as he scripted another 114-run second-wicket partnership with Mominul Haque. Although both Naim (136 off 130 balls) and Mominul (52 off 59) were dismissed later, their contributions helped Rupganj finish on a high. Rupganj did their part with the ball too. Medium pacer Mohammad Shahid returned figures of four for 22 to help restrict Prime Bank to 239.
In the other game, which was an academic affair as it had no bearing on the title race, Prime Doleshwar picked up a three-run victory over Mohammedan Sporting Club in Fatullah. Farhad Hossain’s 89 off 76 balls helped Doleshwar post a challenging 274 for six, which proved enough on the day as Mohammedan could only manage 271 for nine despite Mohammad Ashraful’s 76.
SCORES IN BRIEF
SHEIKH JAMAL v ABAHANI
Sheikh Jamal: 317 for 9 in 50 overs (Tanbir 132 not out, Elias 45; Mashrafe 4-56, Mehedi 1-32)
Abahani: 319 for 1 in 47.1 overs (Soumya 208 not out, Jahurul 100; Imtiaz 1-10)
Result: Abahani won by 9 wickets.
Player-of-the-match: Soumya Sarkar.
LEGENDS OF RUPGANJ v PRIME BANK
Rupganj: 327 for 4 in 50 overs (Naim 136, Mehedi 54; Nahidul 1-52, Mohor 1-53)
Prime Bank: 239 all out in 42.1 overs (Nahidul 74, Rubel 37; Shahid 4-22, Nabil 2-41)
Result: Rupganj won by 88 runs.
Player-of-the-match: Mohammad Naim.
PRIME DOLESHWAR v MOHAMMEDAN
Doleshwar: 274 for 6 in 50 overs (Forhad H 89, Shykat 65; Shafiul 2-39, Saqlain 1-44)
Mohammedan: 271 for 9 in 50 overs (Ashraful 76, Rahatul 37; Taibur 3-34, Forhad R 2-51)
Result: Doleshwar won by 3 runs.
Player-of-the-match: Forhad Hossain.