"I have become successful and the team won eventually, that’s the main thing,” said Ariful after the match.
An outstanding effort from Ariful Haque sealed a comeback victory for Gemcon Khulna in a thrilling contest against Fortune Barishal during their opening match of the Bangabandhu T20 cup tournament at Mirpur’s SBNS on Tuesday and the all-rounder expressed content as his efforts ensured victory for his side.
The match was slipping away from Khulna’s grip when Ariful came to bat as the star-studded experienced top order consisted of Imrul Kayes (0), Anamul Haque Bijoy (4), Shakib al Hasan (15) and Mahmudullah (17) went back to pavilion. Khulna at a stage were reduced to 36 for 4 from 5.4 overs chasing 153.
Ariful formed a good partnership with Jahurul Islam Omi and halted the slide for Khulna. Initially Ariful bide his time, kept focus on floating the match alive without losing further wickets and decided to go full throttle in the very last over.
In the modern day cricket 22 off the last over is not unprecedented but it the equation looked highly improbable for Khulna to fulfill as not out batsman Ariful, who was not out on 24 off 29 balls, struggled even to score run a ball.
But just when it looked his innings was not at all well paced and could only reduce the defeat margin, the well-built, 28-year old man went berserk with the willow in his hand. Off-spinner Mehedi Hasan Miraz, one of the regular members of Bangladesh Test side, came to bowl the final over and Ariful greeted him with a maximum. If that looked like a shot out of desperation, the Khulna man proved it wrong in the very next delivery as he put the ball beyond the fence to collect six more runs.
Miraz looked clueless and panicked as the pendulum was swinging heavily to favour the opponent and produced a full toss in the next delivery that was expected to be dispatched out of the ground. However, Ariful, the man on fire, failed to connect it properly and his confidence resisted him taking a single despite the ball had gone to long-off.
That boldness was paid off handsomely, as he took complete control over the bowler and smashed him for two more sixes, navigated his side to shore from the jaw of a defeat with a ball to spare.
Man of the match Ariful was pleased and delighted with his individual performance.
“Alhamdulillah, feeling great. I have tried my best according to the demand of my team to win the match. I have become successful and the team won eventually, that’s the main thing,” said Ariful after the match.
Top order did not get that many runs but Ariful believes it was just the first match after the break and they will score runs soon.
“We lost some early wickets. We are playing after a long break. So it can happen in cricket. It’s a matter of one ball for a batsman in cricket. We will bounce back soon,” he added.
Both the games on opening day of Bangabandhu T20 Cup went to last over and became thrilling contests. Gemcon Khulna and Minister Group Rajshahi came out as winners against Fortune Barishal and Beximco Dhaka respectively in the opening day.
Both Khulna and Rajshahi will try to keep their good start intact when they face off each other in the day match on Thursday.
At the evening game, Beximco Dhaka will try to bounce back from their loss in the opening game when they will face Gazi Group Chattogram.