Published: February 29, 2012
Dhaka Gladiators made it to the final of the BPL T20 last evening with a 9-run win over Khulna Royal Bengals in the pulsating second semifinal. A packed Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium backed the Dhaka team like a home team is usually supported, though for the first time in the competition.
Dhaka successfully defended their total of 191-4 as Khulna could reach 183-7 in 20 overs. Khulna though threatened Dhaka for most of the game, courtesy of skipper Shakib Al Hasan, who made his first Twenty20 half-century, an unbeaten 86 off 41 balls, punctuated by four sixes and 9 fours.
But it was too little too late for the Royal Bengals who bowled quite poorly from the onset against a revamped Dhaka side that had Shahid Afridi, Saeed Ajmal and Awais Zia flown in from Dubai.
After Dhaka lost the big-hitting Zia and Nazimuddin for 22 runs, Imran Nazir smashed 41 off 25 balls with six fours and two sixes before falling in the eighth over to Mohammad Hafeez.
The Dhaka Gladiators’ huge score was based on a 72-run third wicket stand between Mohammad Ashraful and Azhar Mahmood, who made 65 off 39 balls with six fours and three sixes. The former Bangladesh captain struck four boundaries and a six in his 33-ball 47.
Afridi put the icing on the cake with a ballistic 11-ball 27 that had three sixes. He was particularly harsh on Shakib, hammering 19 in the last over of the innings.
Khulna lost their foreign top-order (Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Herschelle Gibbs, Mohammad Hafeez and Dwayne Smith) within 7.3 overs for 55 runs, but Shakib and Nasir Hossain held on for a fine fourth wicket stand of 87 runs.
The No. 1 one-day all-rounder in the world missed two boundaries when his rocket straight-drives hit Nasir and the stumps on two occasions. He reached his half-century off 22 balls before going for the kill with some swings to the leg, though he relied on ticks, sweeps and scoops off Elias Sunny, Saeed Ajmal and Afridi.
With thirty-one required from the final over, Shakib hammered 21 runs off Azhar Mahmood.
Sunny, in fact, shone with the ball with 3-30 and it was credible especially with two top quality spinners alongside him.
SCORES IN BRIEF
DHAKA: 191-4 in 20 overs (Mahmood 65, Ashraful 47 not out, Nazir 41; Azam 1-29, Hafeez 1-31).
KHULNA: 182-7 in 20 overs (Shakib 86, Nasir 35, Chanderpaul 25; Sunny 3-30).
Result: Dhaka won by nine runs.
Man-of-the-match: Azhar Mahmood.