Rajshahi Kings’s miserable run of Bangladesh Premier League 2017 continued as underrated Khulna Titans batsman, Ariful Haque, produced a grandstand finish to lead his side to a crucial two-wicket victory over Rajshahi on Tuesday.
Ariful produced an astonishing late onslaught of 43 from 19 balls to sneak Khulna past Rajshahi in thrilling fashion at Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Mirpur.
Rajshahi looked in control for much of the match after Dwayne Smith’s 62 off 36 balls and captain Mushfiqur Rahim’s 55 off 33 balls set up a total of 8 for 166, and with Khulna reeling in at 8 for 128 with 21 balls remaining, Rajshahi looked on course for an important win from ‘Down Under’ this BPL.
But with partner Junaid Khan looking on from the opposite end, Ariful let loose on the Rajshahi attack late on.
“I believed myself, if I could carry the match to the end, victory would be ours. I had a lot of confidence. Junaid Khan also supported me. We also had a good understanding,” Player of the match Ariful said after the match.
“I was not happy with my batting position in last BPL. I batted in lower order. Sometimes I batted at number 8 or 9. Actually it is very difficult to play a good innings in that position. My aim was ambitious and continued to fail. Now the confidence level is back to being high,” he added.
He smashed four fours and two sixes as Khulna put on 40 runs off the remaining balls for the ninth wicket, racing to the target of 167 with four balls to spare.
Khulna requiring a difficult 18 from the final 12 balls in pursuit of the target for victory, but right-hander Ariful who was adjudged the player of the match, calmly belted two fours and an astonishing six to catapult Khulna to extraordinary two-wicket victory.
Ariful hit six and four in the first two deliveries of the final over, but it was veteran right-hander Mahmudullah, who stroked a vital 56 from 44 balls, who was the architect of the victory.
Khulna made a feeble start to their chase but Rilee Rossouw (20) shared a 67-run stand for the third wicket with Mahmudullah and the hero of the game Ariful provided the late surge that took Khulna past the victory target with four balls to spare. Rajshahi’s paceman Mohammad Sami was the leading wicket-taker for Rajshahi who claimed three wickets for 29 runs.
After being asked to bat first, Caribbean veteran Smith and Mushfiq had each hit 50s to help put Rajshahi to a challenging total.
Khulna’s paceman Junaid Khan made a grand BPL comeback who claimed four wickets for 27 runs in four overs. His pace colleague Abu Jayed took two wickets for 29 runs, continuing good form in BPL.
Junaid dismissed opener Mominul Hoque (6) with the second over of the innings before removing BPL debutant Daniel Bell-Drummond one ball later.