Comilla Victorians defended the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) title in style, thanks to Johnson Charles’ blistering unbeaten 52-ball 79, as they beat Sylhet Strikers by seven wickets in the final of the franchise-based T20 tournament last 16 February.
Comilla, who have now won the BPL four times, chased down Sylhet’s 175-run total with four deliveries to spare. Charles emerged as the hero for Comilla as the West Indian combined for stands of 70 and 72* with Liton Das and Moeen Ali for the third and fourth wicket, respectively.
The Sher-e-Bangla Stadium in Mirpur staged a fascinating encounter overall, worthy of a grand finale. From the onset, the game kept swinging back and forth in both sides’ favour until the game’s fourth last over.
Sent into bat, Sylhet picked 18 runs in the first over but quickly lost in-form opener Towhid Hridoy for nought and their inspirational captain Mashrafe bin Mortaza (1), who again promoted himself up the order.
Sylhet was struggling as scores read 48 for two after seven overs. However, opener Najmul Hossain Shanto and Mushfqur Rahim broke the shackles from then on as Sylhet raced to a hundred inside twelve overs, with Shanto bringing up his fifty in the process.
Shanto got out at 64 eventually, but Mushfiqur (74) ensured Sylhet got to post a challenging total, 175 for seven after 20 overs. However, the veteran Bangladesh batter had kept losing partners at the other end.
Mushfiqur Rahim in action. Photo: Firoz Ahmed
Chasing 176, Comilla openers Liton Das and Sunil Narine got more than the necessary momentum in the second over as the duo combined to score 20 runs off Tanzim Hasan Sakib.
In the following over, pacer Rubel Hossain gave Sylhet the key breakthrough of Narine, whose 23-ball 57 at the top was pivotal in handing Comilla the BPL last year.
Skipper Imrul Kayes soon followed suit, removed by George Linde. The South African all-rounder went on to stifle the scoring rate, conceding only 11 runs in his first three overs.
Liton combined with Johnson Charles, and the pair brought up Comilla’s century after 12 overs, while Liton brought up his fifty off 36 deliveries.
Liton’s innings perished right after, courtesy of a well-judged catch at the deep from Najmul Hossain Shanto after the stylish Bangladesh batter mistimed a pull shot off Rubel to become his second victim.
And it came to Moeen Ali, and the English star immediately got going, striking consecutive boundaries through the cover off right-arm fast bowler Sakib, whose misery continued on the night.
Comilla had the advantage with 60 required off six overs with seven wickets in hand. But, in the end, Charles ripped apart the Sylhet bowlers and ended the game in a hurry with a flurry of sixes, while Moeen stayed not out on 25.