A match-winning knock came from the bat of Ariful Haque, who helped Khulna Titans register an exciting two-wicket victory over Rajshahi Kings in the 23nd match of AKS Bangladesh Premier League T20 on Tuesday at Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Mirpur, reports BSS.
The 25-year-old right handed batsman Ariful played a hurricane knock of 19-ball off 43 runs as Khulna chased down the target making 168 for 8 with four balls to spare.
He smacked four boundaries and two over boundaries to secure Khulna's fourth victory, remaining unbeaten till the end of the innings.
Earlier, Khulna slumped to 2 for 13 in the score board but a solid 67-run third wicket stand between Mahmudullah and Rilee Rossouw kept Khulna on course before Hasan Miraj broke the partnership removing Rossouw for 20.
James Frankline then sent back Afif Hossain (5), in the next over, leaving Khulna in deep trouble.
Skipper Mahmudullah on the other end kept his wicket intact as he stretched the innings with a classy 44-ball off 56 runs before he was clean bowled by Hossain Ali. Mahmudullha's innings contained eight boundaries and one over boundary.
At one stage, it seemed the Rajshahi kings bowlers were gradually snatching the momentum from Khulna, but it was Ariful who dashed Rajshahi's hope with his magnificent innings.
Pakistani Mohammad Sami was the pick of Rajshahi's bowler as he claimed three wickets conceding 29 runs while James Franklin bagged two wickets giving away 30 runs.
Rajshahi Kings secured six points from seven matches while Khulna Titans remained at their previous credit of seven points playing seven matches.
Ariful Haque of Khulna was named the player of the match for his match-winning innings.
Earlier, magnificent fifties from opener Dwayne Smith and skipper Mushfiqur Rahim helped Rajshahi Kings to score a competitive total of 166 for 8 from their stipulated 20 overs, after they were forced to bat first by Khulna Titans.
Rajshahi Kings led by Mushfiqur Rahim suffered early batting jolt as he lost three wickets in the space of three overs against Mahmudullah Riyad's Khulna Titans.
Mominul Haque (5), who had some impressive innings in this season's BPL, this time fell into Junaid Khan's trap in the second over. The Pakistani pacer then removed Daniel Bell-Drummond (0) in his two deliveries.
Seekugge Prasanna took an outstanding catch while diving backwards as Abu Jayed took the wicket of Zakir Hasan, leaving Rajshahi in a deep trouble.
Skipper Mushfiqur Rahim then came out to bat. He and Dwayne Smith rebuild Rajshahi's dilapidated innings and the momentum with some outstanding strokes.
The diminutive wicket keeper Mushfiqur announced his entrance when he hit Junaid for four in the first delivery he faced. West Indies batsman Smith scored a cracking 62 from 36-balls, an innings that studded seven fours and
four sixes. Mushfiqur Rahim continued his onslaught and reached his fifty in just 27 balls. The wicket keeper batsman fell in the 16th over giving an easy catch to Ariful Haque.
Strike bowler Junaid again struck on Rajshai's innings as he removed the dangerman Darren Sammy in the 18th over giving away a catch to Ariful.
Junaid also sent back Mohammed Sami and was the pick of the Khulna bowlers as he grabbed four wickets for 27 runs from his four overs. He was well supported by Abu Jayed who bagged two wickets giving away 29 runs.
With this victory, Khulna Titans secured third position with nine points from seven matches while Rajshahi Kings remained at their previous credit of four points playing the same number of outings.