Sylhet Sixers' pursuit for a perfect home leg in the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) suffered a decisive blow when lost against Khulna Titans by six wickets in the last match of the first leg at the Sylhet International Stadium yesterday.
The home side, with three wins from as many games, walked into the match with the hope of keeping their dream winning run on debut intact. But they collapsed against some intelligent and at times fiery bowling from Khulna, only managing to post 135 for 5. They were never in hunt for a good total once their on-song opening pair of Upul Tharanga and Andre Fletcher were dismissed cheaply.
After hitting three consecutive fifties, left-hander Tharanga was out for 26. His opening partner Fletcher scored only four after being part of century stands in the last three games. One-down Sabbir Rahman continued to disappoint with the bat, scoring a six-ball duck. The right-hander charged down the wicket against a 148k delivery from firebrand West Indian pacer Jofra Archer -- who struck his compatriot Fletcher on the helmet with a nasty bouncer the previous over -- but ended up offering a simple catch at mid-off.
Sri Lankan Danushka Gunathilaka tried to rebuild the innings with a 25-ball 26 but his departure left Sylhet reeling at 4-67 in 11 overs.
Syleht captain Nasir Hossain, who hardly got the opportunity to bat in the last three games, salvaged his side a fighting total with a gusty unbeaten 47 off 35 balls. Nasir also shared 54 runs for the fifth wicket with big-hitting England batsman Ross Whitley, who hit a 23-ball 27 that contained a six and a four.
Khulna skipper Mahmudullah was the most successful bowler with 2-12 in his three overs. But it was the tall Archer who really hit the deck on a slow wicket and finished with 2-25 in his four allotted overs.
Despite a couple of early blows, an unbeaten 47 off 36 deliveries from Michael Klinger propelled the Khulna Titans to the target in 18 overs, with six wickets in hand, earning Khulna their first win in their second match. Mahmudullah scored 27 and was adjudged player-of-the-match for his all-round performance.