Andre Russell hit 22-ball 54 with two fours and seven sixes to help his team Rajshahi Royals storm the final of the Bangabandhu Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) beating Chattogram Challengers by two wickets at Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium on Wednesday.
Royals will now face Khulna Tigers in the final of this year's BPL on January 17 at 7pm. Khulna Tigers beat Royals earlier in the Qualifier-1 to advance to the final.
Challengers batted first after losing the toss and put up 164 runs for nine in 20 overs. In reply, Royals chased it down in 19.2 overs riding on the brutal hitting of Andre Russell.
Royals started the chase losing both of their openers- Afif Hossin and Liton Das. Afif fell first scoring only two runs while Liton fell as the second batsman for six. While Afif fell prey to Rubel Hossain, Liton was a victim of a run-out by Mehedi Hasan Rana.
Irfan Sukkur came to bat at number three and posted 45 off 42 with six fours but number four batsman Alok Kapali was dismissed by Mahmudullah for nine runs.
Pakistani veteran all-rounder Shoaib Malik failed to respond properly as he fell for 14 off 22 balls.
In the sixth wicket stand, Royals captain Andree Russell and Pakistan all-rounder Mohammad Nawaz added 33 runs. Before getting dismissed, Nawaz hit 14 off five balls with two sixes.
After losing five wickets in 89 runs at 15 overs, Royals needed 76 runs in the last five overs. In the 16th and 17th overs, Royals scored 39 runs losing two more wickets. Rubel conceded 19 runs in the 16th over and West Indian Ryad Emrit gave 20 runs in the 17th over.
In the 18th over, Rubel conceded 6 runs, but in the 19th over, Mehedi Hasan Rana gave away 23 runs and Royals needed eight runs in the last over. Mahmudullah gave the ball to Sri Lankan all-rounder Asela Gunaratne. But he failed to defend it.
In the end, Russell scored 54 off 22 with two fours and seven sixes and guided his team to the final of Bangabandhu BPL.
Rubel and Emrit took two wickets each conceding 32 and 41 runs respectively while Mehedi Hasan Rana, Mahmudullah Riyad and Ziaur Rahman scalped one wicket each.
Earlier, Royals won the toss and sent the Challengers to bat first and put up 22 runs in the opening stand. Ziaur Rahman fell as the first wicket when he missed a ball which left his stumps shattered off Mohammad Irfan.
After Ziaur, Imrul Kayes also failed to come up with a big knock. The southpaw fell prey to Andre Russell for five.
After losing two wickets in 45 runs, West Indian batting superstar Chris Gayle and Challengers captain Mahmudullah Riyad added 52 runs in the third wicket stand.
Gayle was looking dangerous but the West Indian batting superstar could not finish it up with a big knock as he fell prey to Afif Hossain for 60 off 24 with four fours and five sixes.
Right after Gayle's dismissal, Challengers lost Mahmudullah for 33 off 18 balls with three fours and three sixes.
Sri Lankan Asela Gunaratne was the third Challengers' batsman to have hit a double-digit score- 31 off 25 -- with one four and two sixes.
Due to the dismal show by most of the batsmen, Challengers failed to put up a challenging score in spite of scoring 111 runs in the first 10 overs. In the last 10 overs, they scored just 53 runs.
They ended on 164 for nine in 20 overs as Pakistan bowler Mohammad Irfan and Pakistani all-rounder Mohammad Nawaz bagged two wickets each while Andre Russell, Afif Hossain and Alok Kapali took one wicket each.
Source: United News of Bangladesh