DHAKA – M Aamir claimed career-best T20 figures on his BPL debut but he was unable to prevent Rangpur Riders from winning off the last ball, by two wickets, in the tournament opener against Chittagong Vikings. Misbah-ul-Haq’s clever late onslaught coupled with Thisara Perera revived Rangpur after they had looked dead in their chase.
With 14 required off the last over, Darren Sammy half-connected with a slower ball from Shafiul Islam for a six over long-off before he was dropped by Asif Ahmed at deep cover. Sammy then scythed the fourth ball for a boundary through point but the fifth ball had him run-out going for a second. With one run needed off the last ball, Saqlain Sajib ran through for the single and threw his bat in delight.
Despite the last-over heroics of Sammy, it was Misbah who played the innings that swung the game Rangpur’s way, hammering four big sixes down the ground in his 39-ball 61. He shared an 80-run sixth wicket stand after Rangpur had seemed done for at 87 for 5 in the 13th over, having already added 64 for the fifth wicket with Al-Amin. Misbah remained the strong accumulator and used his experience to release the pressure by hitting late sixes and fours. Comeback kid Aamir removed the dangerous Perera and Misbah with consecutive deliveries of the 19th over. Aamir had earlier taken the wickets of the openers Lendl Simmons and Soumya Sarkar – who had earlier been dropped by Asif from his first ball – in consecutive deliveries, too, as Rangpur were reduced to 23 for 4 in the fifth over. Soumya’s leg-before decision was iffy, however, as all three stumps were exposed when the ball hit his pad.
The thrill of having a tournament start with Shakib Al Hasan bowling the first ball to Tamim Iqbal didn’t disappoint the modest Mirpur crowd but it was Jeevan Mendis who made the difference to give Chittagong their competitive total. He came in to bat in the comfort of 117 for 2 in the 13th over but saw three wickets fall quickly, his team slipping to 134 for 5 in the 16th over. Jeevan made 39 off 18 balls, adding 44 runs for the sixth wicket with Asif. He was at his best in the 18th and 19th overs, hitting Abu Jayed and Arafat Sunny for sixes over square leg, long-on and midwicket.
Chittagong must have thought a big total was around the corner after the way Tillakaratne Dilshan and Tamim Iqbal blazed to 50 runs in just four overs. Later Tamim and Anamul Haque added 65 runs for the second wicket, with the Chittagong captain reaching his 50 off 32 balls before getting caught at deep midwicket off Sajib in the 13th over to start the mini-collapse that had them losing 4 for 17 runs in 2.5 overs.
Both the collapses in the two innings became inconsequential as Misbah batted like the master of chase that is known for.
BRIEF SCORES: Rangpur Riders 188 for 8 (Misbah 61, Thisara 43, Aamir 4-30) beat Chittagong Vikings 187 for 7 (Tamim 51, Sajib 3-26) by two wickets.