Table-toppers Sylhet Strikers confirmed their place in the first qualifier of the ongoing Bangladesh Premier League 2023 after they beat Khulna Tigers by six wickets in their last league match at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur on Wednesday.
Sylhet needed to clinch a victory over Khulna in the game to confirm a ‘top two’ finish in the league stage and they achieved the goal successfully by earning another dominating win in the tournament.
Zakir Hasan then struck 50 off 46 balls – his second fifty in the tournament – while Mushfiqur Rahim made 39 runs as Sylhet reached 114-4 in 17.3 overs to finish the league stage with nine wins in 12 matches.
However, Sylhet surprised many during the toss time when their regular skipper Mashrafe bin Mortaza came to the field to complete the ritual alongside the opposition captain Shai Hope.
Mashrafe’s participation in the match was doubtful as he sustained a knee injury during their 10th game of the tournament and he also missed their last game against Rangpur Riders, which they lost by eight wickets.
However, the veteran opted to stay out from bowling against Khulna while he didn’t need to bat as their main batters completed the task.
“It is a good win. Finishing in the top two is a good feeling. There is still a niggle for me, it will take time,” Mashrafe said after the match.
On Wednesday, Khulna were left struggling at 21-3 in the sixth over after Sylhet bowlers removed Munim Shahriar (three), Hope (nine) and Andrew Balbirnie (seven) cheaply.
Mahmudul Hasan Joy struck run-a-ball 41 while Nahidul Islam made 22 runs but none of the other Khulna batters could contribute much with the bat as they had to be content with a below-par total.
Sylhet, in reply, lost their in-form openers Towhid Hridoy (five) and Najmul Hossain Shanto (three) within the third over before Zakir and Mushfiqur shared a 90-run stand for the third wicket to take their side close to the victory.
Sylhet’s Ryan Burl (12 not out) smashed Hasan Murad for a winning six to wrap the match with 15 balls to spare and handed Khulna their ninth defeat in the tournament.
“It swung a bit in the first powerplay. There was a bit of a spin but I don’t think it was too bad a wicket. We just didn’t bat well and lost three wickets in the powerplay. We just didn’t get a score on the board. To defend that total, you have to take four early wickets and we did not do that,” Balbirnie said after the match.