Rangpur Riders’ best overseas players played their part in the most important time of the tournament to seal the championship.
Rangpur, who won six matches and lost the remaining six in the group stage to qualify for the knockout phase, were superb in the last three games, winning all of them against perhaps the best three teams of the competition.
The West Indies’ Chris Gayle played a record breaking 126 against Khulna Titans in the Eliminator to seal a crushing victory. In the next match, another West Indian Johnson Charles blasted a century while New Zealand’s Brendon McCullum played an aggressive 78 to defeat the most consistent team of the tournament, Comilla Victorians. And in the grand finale, Gayle played another record breaking innings, smashing a world record 18 sixes to clinch the title, against holder Dhaka Dynamites.
But credit must go to captain Mashrafe bin Mortaza and the other players who kept their nerve and won tight games when big hitters like Gayle and McCullum did not score significant runs.
Mashrafe produced an all-round performance to inspire his team to the title.
Sri Lanka all-rounder Thisara Perera won a close match for Rangpur by hitting a last-ball six against Chittagong Vikings’ Taskin Ahmed in the port city. That particular performance and win were crucial for the Riders. English all-rounder Ravi Bopara scored runs consistently throughout the tournament as he made 365 runs in 13 innings at an average of 40.55.
Local paceman Rubel Hossain bowled well as he picked up 15 wickets. Spinners like Sohag Gazi (11 wickets in 12 innings) and Nazmul Islam (12 wickets in 10 innings) gave good support.
Overall, a total team effort in the group stage and stunning performances from the overseas powerhouses sealed the maiden title for Rangpur.
Chris Gayle (Overseas)
When Gayle play his natural game, any bowling line-up in the world can be destroyed. The West Indies legend proved it once again. In the knockout stage and among three games, Gayle struck two centuries, perhaps against the two of the most strongest bowling units in BPL 5. He simply blew the opponent away. The left-hander scored 485 runs in 11 innings at a strike rate of 176.36 and average of 53.88. And that was enough to win the title for Rangpur. What else you do you need from your best batsman in a T20 tournament?
Mashrafe bin Mortaza (Local)
Mashrafe has won yet again (fourth) BPL title in his illustrious career. The prolific all-rounder, often considered the captain fantastic, has well and truly led the team with his performance and captaincy ability. Mashrafe scored 131 runs in eight innings and also took 15 wickets at an economy rate of 6.74. At the age of 35, Mashrafe is still sharp on the field, having taken some splendid catches in the tournament.
Shahriar Nafees (Local)
Experienced campaigner Shahriar has not scored many runs in the competition, which was expected from a batsman of his caliber. The left-hander scored 108 runs in eight innings at an average of 13.5. The strike rate was also poor, bearing in mind the T20 format, as the southpaw managed a rate of only 91.52 rate in his eight innings. The left-hander seems more fit these days but was not able to score plenty of runs in order to come back to contention for national team selection.
Lasith Malinga (Overseas)
The Sri Lankan legendary fast bowler Malinga was supposed to be the best wicket-taking option for Rangpur. The veteran pacer could not find his form properly in BPL 5 though. Malinga played eight matches, taking as many wickets. The pacer with the slinging action has a reputation of conceding less runs by bowling yorkers and slower deliveries. But Malinga gave plenty of runs in BPL 5 as he conceded 267 runs in his 31 overs at an economy rate of 8.61, which is a bit expensive compared to his overall T20 career (6.88).