November 19, 2016 - 12:12pm
Defending champions Comilla Victorians skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza had said, when contemplating having lost four out of four matches, that they need only one win to get back on track in this season's Bangladesh Premier League. But that looks as far away now as it did when he spoke on Thursday, after yesterday's nine-wicket drubbing at the hands of Rangpur Riders at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chittagong.
Having put up a paltry 122 for five in the first innings, Victorians' bowlers were toothless and ineffective in their efforts to contain their opponents who, led by opener Mohammad Shahzad's unbeaten 49-ball 51 and an unconquered 93- run second-wicket stand with Mohammad Mithun (45 off 39), raced to 126 for one in just 17 overs.
In the day's afternoon match, Tamim Iqbal's Chittagong Vikings did what the Victorians were unable to do and arrested a slide of four straight defeats by beating Rajshahi Kings by 19 runs. The stars for Vikings were Mohammad Nabi, who hit a blistering 37-ball 87, and the returning Taskin Ahmed who picked up five for 31.
In the evening match, Rangpur got off to a flying start with Soumya Sarkar hitting a four and a six off the first over bowled by Nabil Samad. Soumya was the dominant partner with a 15-ball 22 in the opening stand worth 29 in just 3.4 overs during which he hit two fours and a six, but like recent efforts from the batsman trying to work himself into form, he fell just when he was looking good. A length ball from Mashrafe was pulled straight to midwicket.
Thereafter however, Shahzad and Mithun were rarely troubled as they played risk-free cricket, occasionally coming out of their shells to hit boundaries in order to stay well ahead of the modest required run-rate. An example of that was Shahzad hitting a four before Mithun hit a six in the sixth over bowled by Mashrafe.
Comilla's play was summed up perfectly in the eighth over, when Shahzad ramped a ball to third man and Marlon Samuels dropped a simple catch with the batsman just on 14. Rangpur were only too happy to capitalise.
Earlier, defending champions Comilla Victorians were restricted to a paltry 122 for five after being asked to bat first.
Rangpur Riders immediately put pressure on the struggling Victorians through tidy bowling from openers Shohag Gazi and Anwar Ali, who kept Liton Das and Imrul Kayes to just eight after two overs. The pressure told immediately as Imrul advanced down the track to Gazi but was trapped leg-before when the bowler dropped it short and spun it past the flashing blade.
Anwar bowled another quiet over, and Arafat Sunny replaced Gazi to give away just three runs in the fifth, which meant that Comilla were 17 for one after five overs. The lack of runs created a run-out in the last ball of the sixth over, when Ahmed Shehzad called through a hesitant Liton after playing Rubel Hossain to mid off, but the throw beat the non-striker to the striker's end.
Shehzad and Marlon Samuels then seemed to concentrate on avoiding a capitulation and played sensibly to put on a 64-run stand in 10.2 overs. Shehzad was the aggressor in the partnership, hitting two consecutive boundaries in the 12th over bowled by Ziaur Rahman and a six off Rubel that took him to a 50 off the 41st ball he faced in the 15th over.
He was soon dismissed for a 45-ball 52 when, in the 17th over, he skied a lofted drive off Anwar to Shahid Afridi at cover. From 85 for three, Samuels -- then on 20 off 30 -- lifted his scoring rate, hitting a six off Rubel in the 18th over and punishing Anwar for a six and a four in the 19 th.
He reached his 50 off 43 balls with a single off Rubel in the last over, but there was not much more joy for him as he was caught behind off the penultimate ball for 52. Rubel then finished things off in style by getting Sohail Tanvir out in the same fashion to finish with figures of two for 27 in four overs.