Afghans power Victorians
Comilla Victorians' Afghan recruits, skipper Mohammad Nabi and leg-spinner Rashid Khan, provided a winning platform with some tight bowling to restrict Rajshahi Kings to a sub-par total that enabled the 2015 champions to clinch their second win in three matches of the Bangladesh Premier League by nine wickets at the Sher-e-Bangla National stadium in Mirpur last night.
Nabi picked three for 15 from his four overs while Rashid was outstanding with his googlies and unerring line and length, picking up two wickets and giving away just seven runs from his four overs to keep Rajshahi to a paltry 115 for seven.
English batsman Jos Buttler scored an unbeaten fifty off 39 balls with four boundaries and two sixes and Imrul Kayes, who finished the game with a six off Malcom Waller, was not out on a 41-ball 44 as the Victorians chased down the small target with 29 balls to spare, handing Rajshahi their third defeat in four games.
Liton Das gave Comilla a flying start and scored all of the side's first 23 runs off just 12 balls, smashing two sixes on bent knees off Forhad Reza in the second over before departing in the same over trying to play across the line.
Earlier, Comilla were once again without their icon player Tamim Iqbal as he was yet to recover from a thigh muscle injury. Nabi opted to field keeping the dew and pitch in mind and they were on top of Rajshahi, led by Mushfiqur Rahim in the absence of the injured Darren Sammy, right from the start.
Rajshahi's half-centurion in the previous game, Mominul Haque, failed to make an impact this time around and was caught for two trying to go against the spin to off-spinner Nabi. Rony Talukder soon followed for a duck, getting a thick edge to the keeper while trying to smack pacer Al-Amin Hossain.
West Indian opener Lendl Simmons, who looked in terrific touch, scored 40 in no time, striking consecutive boundaries off left-arm spinner Arafat Sunny in the sixth over. But off the next ball Simmons pulled his hamstring trying to take a quick single and was on the ground in pain after completing the run. He had to be stretchered off and was unable to return.
Mushfiqur offered a straightforward catch to cover off the bowling of Rashid after scoring 16 while Dwayne Bravo entertained with his dance moves after James Franklin played on to the stumps for seven. Marlon Samuels took a brilliant catch diving towards his right at backward point to catch Mehedi Hasan Miraz's powerful reverse sweep off Nabi, reducing Rajshahi to a dismal 82 for 6 in 14 overs.
Forhad however remained unbeaten on 25 off 30 balls and Mohammad Sami was not out on 10 as Rajshahi managed to go past the hundred mark. However the eventual total was never going to be enough.