Nazmul Hossain Shanto, Ariful Haque take Khulna Titans up to second
ESPNCricInfo - Wednesday 6th December, 2017
and ball-by-ball details
Khulna Titans jumped to second spot after their 14-run win over table-toppers Comilla Victorians, who can still extend their lead as they have a game left against Sylhet Sixers on Wednesday.
Batting first, Khulna posted 174 for 6, with Nazmul Hossain Shanto top-scoring with 37. But the real push came from Ariful Haque and Carlos Brathwaite, who helped them punch 50 runs in the last three overs. Al-Amin took three wickets but was very expensive, giving away 52 runs.
Comilla started well with the bat, but a lack of big hits in the middle overs squeezed them out of the game. Shoaib Malik and Marlon Samuels slammed some sixes in the last few overs, but it was too little too late.
Khulna's bright start
Michael Klinger and Nazmul Hossain Shanto put on 55 runs for the first wicket to give Khulna a strong start in the Powerplay. After a sedate start - they scored six in the first two overs - the two blasted 49 runs in four overs. The only thing that prevented it from becoming the perfect start was Shanto's dismissal, off the last ball of the sixth over, for 37 of 21 balls. He stuck four fours and two sixes - over long-off and midwicket. Klinger was slower, his 29 coming off 28 balls with a four and a six, before he got out in the 11th over.
A forceful finish
After the blistering start, Khulna lost substantial ground in the middle overs, with Mahmudullah and Nicholas Pooran getting out cheaply. That was until the arrivals of Carlos Brathwaite and Ariful Haque, who plundered 67 runs in the last five overs. Though they only cleared the fence once each, they found it with regularity. The duo's onslaught upset Khulna's lines and lengths, as witnessed in the penultimate over, when Mehedi Hasan Rana conceded a hat-trick of wides and a no-ball. Khulna finished with 174 for 6, which would need some batting to chase down.
Comilla recover from early loss
Solomon Mire, playing his first game this season, fell for a two-ball duck in the first over of the chase. But Tamim Iqbal and Imrul Kayes brought them back through a 63-run second wicket stand. Kayes struck three fours in his 19-ball 20, and was reprieved by Carlos Brathwaite, who dropped a sitter in the fourth over when Imrul was on 6. Brathwaite later made amends with a smart catch, running to his left from long-off, to send back Kayes for 20. When Tamim fell two overs later, toe-ending a catch to Mahmudullah at cover, Comilla were on the backfoot: 69 for 3 at the halfway mark, requiring another 106.
Khulna sustain late pressure
After Imrul and Tamim's departures, Benny Howell removed Jos Buttler in the 14th over, having him caught at backward point. Thereafter, with the required rate rising quickly, Shoaib Malik slammed three sixes in the 14th, 15th and 16th overs before Samuels continued the trend with one in the 17th over. But Malik's dismissal pretty much brought the curtains down on Comilla. Having played fluently for his 36, Malik lobbed a catch off the leading edge to point, leaving Comilla with 48 to get in three overs.
Abu Jayed conceded seven in the 18th over which also included the wicket of Graeme Cremer. He returned for the last over and conceded 16, but with Comilla requiring 31 at the start, it still ensured a comfortable win for Khulna.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84
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