Reigning champions Comilla Victorians began the fourth season of the Bangladesh Premier League with a 29-run defeat against a disciplined Chittagong Vikings at Mirpur yesterday.
The difference between the two sides yesterday was that Chittagong's key players fired for them, while Comilla's did not. A half-century from Tamim iqbal and a quickfire 42 off 28 balls from Shoaib Malik helped Chittagong post 161 for three in the first innings.
After the exchange, Mohammad Nabi took a four-wicket haul and with the help of a balanced bowling attack the Vikings restricted Comilla to just 132 for eight.
The Vikings had finished last in the BPL in the previous season. And in order to make up for that embarrassment they seemed to have built a formidable side this year, one which analysts would expect to easily reach the playoffs.
Tamim continued his good run from the England series and laid the foundation with a 38-ball 54. He continued playing those inside-out drives against the spinners with ease and ended up hitting six fours and two sixes.
He was however dismissed in the oddest of fashions. He drove one towards long-on and attempted to take a double in the sixth over. His partner Anamul Haque however was not ready and had signalled Tamim to stop. Tamim was not aware of that and ran the complete distance without looking at his partner to be easily run out. Anamul himself was run out in the 14th over for 22 and they were poised at 101 for three after 13 overs.
A brilliant 60-run stand for the fourth wicket between Jahurul Islam and Shoaib Malik though brought the Vikings back into the game. While Shoaib hit two sixes and two fours during his 28-ball 42, Jahurul scored 21 off 29 with three boundaries.
If Chittagong's batting was impressive their bowling seemed even more dominating. With the veteran Abdur Razzak, Afghanistan's Mohammad Nabi and Shoaib in the team, their spin attack was always going to be decent.
However, the addition of England pacer Tymal Mills has added another dimension to the attack. Mills is someone who can regularly bowl at 90-plus miles per hour and he proved how dangerous he could be when he came on to bowl yesterday.
He stunned Liton Das in the seventh over with his pace and even hit his helmet once. However, with Tamim preferring to use up his spinners at the start, it took Mills some time before he could get a wicket.
At the start of the second innings, Dwayne Smith removed Imrul with a medium-paced delivery that moved off the pitch and got the batsman's edge in the third over. Two overs later, Razzak got Samuels caught at mid-off. The left-armer had been hit for a six in the previous ball. Samuels tried to repeat the shot but was caught inside the circle.
Nabi removed Liton Das and Ashar Zaidi, the player-of-the-series of the last edition, in the eighth and tenth overs respectively before Mills bowled Mashrafe Bin Mortaza with a slower delivery. At 77 for six in 13 overs, the game was pretty much over for Comilla.
The young Nazmul Hossain Shanto, recently selected in the preliminary squad to tour New Zealand, tried his best by scoring a few boundaries. However, Nabi took two wickets when he was brought back in the 18th over and Comilla were reduced to 107 for eight.
Shanto continued attacking the bowlers though. He smacked Taskin Ahmed for four consecutive fours in the last over and reached his 50 and ended up scoring 54 off 44 balls.