Akhi Malek

2019-02-06 13:24:06 BdST

Rangpur face Dhaka in do or die battle for final

Finalists of Bangladesh Premier League’s last edition and the two pre-tournament favourites of ongoing sixth edition- Rangpur Riders and Dhaka Dynamites will play the second qualifier today to reach the final.

Both the title aspirant side will be eager to win the match that starts on 6:30 PM at Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium at Mirpur to qualify for the finals where they will meet Comilla Victorians on Friday.

This is the second chance for the defending champions Rangpur as they lost in the first qualifier against Comilla by eight wickets on Monday. That defeat not only broke their six-match winning streak but also raised some concern about batting.

The biggest star in T20, Chris Gayle, who scored a massive 146-run innings in last final to sink Dynamites, is not in rhythm as the West Indian has made just 188 runs in 11 matches at an average of 18.80.

Rangpur will hope Gayle repeat his feat of last edition, when he scored two centuries in most crucial games including an unbeaten 126 against Khulna Titans in eliminator, to help his side prevail in most crucial games.

But they will surely miss another big superstar AB de Villiers as the South African left the tournament after playing the group matches and they also received a big set-back when their in-form English batsman Alex Hales was forced to return home due to an injury.

However, another South African Rilee Rossouw have flourished brightly for Rangpur as the 29-year old has accumulated 558 in 13 matches at an average of 79.71 and became the first player to score over 500 runs in a single edition of BPL.

And despite their defeat in the first qualifier, their France-born English first class cricketer Benny Howell scored a rapid unbeaten half century to raise their hopes and Rangpur will hope he may play a good innings against a strong Dhaka attack.

Perhaps Rangpur’s biggest strength will be their inspirational captain Mashrafee bin Murtaza as the iconic figure is not only the most successful skipper in BPL history, winning four out of five trophies as captain, but also have picked 20 wickets, third in top wicket takers’ list this season, to lead his side from the front.

But he will surely face strong competition from his national team colleague Shakib al Hasan as the Dhaka skipper is second in the list with 21 wickets.

Dhaka, one of the strongest teams in papers, went through a bad patch losing five matches in a row at one stage after a four-game winning streak in the beginning, fought back and qualified for the match by virtue of beating Chittagong in the eliminator.

Dhaka’s biggest strength is a bunch of all-rounders as some of the big names in the format like Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard and Andre Russell feature the side along with their skipper Shakib.

The side is also bolstered with Sri Lankan Upul Tharanga, who has played two good innings in last two matches, and they also have experienced local players like Rubel Hossain and Shuvagata Hom to provide a tough fight against Rangpur.

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