A disciplined Rajshahi Kings prevailed in a low-scoring encounter against Khulna Titans on Wednesday (December 7) to record their second victory in two days at the Shere Bangla stadium in Dhaka and reach the final of the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) 2016.
Khulna Titans drew first blood, or so they would've believed, when Mahmudullah won the toss and decided to set a target and hence, put pressure on Rajshahi Kings. Two run-outs, in the space of three deliveries, meant the early advantage that Titans enjoyed was easily nullified as they were two down in the third over with both openers - Abdul Mazid and Hasanuzzaman - back in the pavilion.
Farhad Reza, the right-arm fast bowler, provided the third breakthrough of the day in the fourth over to leave Titans tottering at 17 for 3. Titans skipper Mahmudullah and Nicholas Pooran opted to attack their way out of early trouble as both collected 14 runs each off the over of Mehedi Hasan and Reza respectively to lift their side to 45 for 3 in 6 overs.
Right after the powerplay overs, however, Darren Sammy turned to his 17-year-old tweaker Afif Hossain, who had rattled Chittagong Vikings only four days ago with a splendid five-fer. Hossain endured a brutal welcome from Pooran, who whacked him for a six over long-on, but the youngster had the last laugh, dismissing him off the fifth delivery of the over.
Benny Howell combined with Mahmudullah to offer some respite from regular fall of wickets, but that endeavour lasted under four overs as a quicker delivery from Samit Patel did the former in, in the 11th over. Patel further pushed in the dagger into Titans' batting heart, when he removed Mahmudullah and Kevon Cooper in the 14th over. Ariful Haque, the No. 7 batsman, fought hard but Titans could only muster up 125 for 9 in their quota of 20 overs.
Kings experienced a wobble in the modest chase but young Afif showed good composure to bat on a little beyond the half-way stage and put a lid on the fall of wickets. Once he departed in the 12th over, the experienced pair of Sabbir Rahman (43 not out) and James Franklin (30 not out) took over and completed the formality with four deliveries to spare.
Brief scores: Khulna Titans 125/9 in 20 overs (Ariful Haque 32*; Samit Patel 3-19) lost to Rajshahi Kings 129/3 in 19.2 overs (Sabbir Rahman 43*, James Franklin 30*; Mahmudullah 1-10) by 7 wickets.