The winner of the match will advance to the final, while the loser will get another chance in the second qualifier where they will face the winner of the eliminator – Dhaka Dynamites or Chittagong Vikings – Wednesday
Defending champion Rangpur Riders will face off against Comilla Victorians in the first qualifier of the sixth season of the BPL at Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Mirpur, Dhaka Monday.
The winner of the match will advance to the final, while the loser will get another chance in the second qualifier where they will face the winner of the eliminator – Dhaka Dynamites or Chittagong Vikings – Wednesday.
More than anything else, Rangpur need to fix their top-order as their in-form opener Alex Hales returned to England after the Chittagong phase due to shoulder injury.
To add to that, South African batsman AB de Villiers returned home after playing his last match against Comilla in Mirpur Saturday.
AB was contracted for six matches and he finished his campaign scoring 247 runs.
The in-form Rilee Rossouw will be key for the Riders at the top of the order as the left-hander has made 514 runs in just 11 innings so far.
Rangpur captain Mashrafe bin Mortaza and all-rounder Farhad Reza are in good form with the ball as they have taken 19 and 17 wickets respectively.
There is however, slight injury concern with Shafiul Islam as he has not played since the Chittagong phase.
Mashrafe though admitted the absence of Hales and De Villiers might not affect their momentum that much, and also believes it’s a good chance for the local youngsters to step up and showcase their talent in the business stage of the tournament.
“We have not planned about any player as a replacement of the injured Hales. He scored a lot of runs in the Chittagong leg. But Mirpur wicket is different, and it’s unpredictable. So I believe absence of Hales or De Villiers will not affect the momentum that much. We have to play good cricket here. Our local players need to step up and understand that they can also bat like Hales. We will definitely miss them as they are great players. But we have quality players in our squad and we are ready for the fight,” said Mashrafe.
Windies opener Chris Gayle has not been in the best of form this season, and it is high time for the explosive batsman to get back in run-scoring mood.
Gayle has scored 142 runs in 10 innings thus far for the Riders.
However, Mashrafe is of the opinion that a big score is just around the corner for Gayle.
“Everybody knows the ability of Gayle. He can win matches single-handedly in any given day. He has proven that all over the world in every format. Last year, he also played such innings for us. But one thing is for sure, local players need to perform and should give proper support right now. I always believe, if you want to win BPL, then local players have to perform well,” informed Mashrafe.
Ahead of the clash, the Victorians did not train Sunday.
They will surely try to produce a better batting performance against the Riders after two shambolic displays in the group stage.
In both the games, Comilla’s batting capitulated, having been dismissed for 63 in the first match and 73 in the second.
Comilla opener Evin Lewis is dealing with an injury and did not take part in the last group stage game.
The Windies opener though is likely to play against Rangpur.
All-rounder Shahid Afridi is in good form with the leather as he bagged 16 wickets in 11 innings.
Comilla need some fireworks from the experienced Afridi, alongside their Sri Lankan recruit Thisara Perera in the vital tie against Rangpur.
Local all-rounder Saifuddin will also be key for the Victorians as he has notched 17 wickets so far in this edition.
The match begins at 6:30pm local time.