Khulna Titans registered their fourth consecutive win to reach the top of the Bangladesh Premier League Twenty20 2016-17 season's points table when they defeated Barisal Bulls by 22 runs at Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chittagong on Sunday.
Skipper Mushfiqur Rahim was the highest scorer with 35 runs but none of the Barisal batsmen were able to provide adequate support as they were eventually bundled out for 129 in 19.3 overs after Khulna posted 151/7.
In-form Shahriar Nafees was the second highest-scorer with 28 while Sri Lankan Jeevan Mendis added 21 but some controlled bowling and magnificent fielding saw Khulna rise to the BPL 4 summit.
Paceman Shafiul Islam, who was the pick of the Khulna bowlers bagging 4/17 from his 3.3 overs, is now the leading wicket-taker of the fourth edition with 13 scalps while Pakistan pacer Junaid Khan and left-arm spinner Mosharraf Hossain also bowled economically, picking up two wickets each.
Following the defeat, things are now looking grim for Barisal, who are short of confidence. They suffered their third defeat in six matches and Mushfiq and his troop will now have to step up the gas in order to ensure a playoff berth.
Earlier, the Khulna top-order yet again failed to give a good start as both the opening batsmen Andre Fletcher (four) and Hasanuzzaman (19) departed early, making things difficult for Khulna, who were asked to bat first.
However, Riki Wessels and Mahmudullah held the ship for Khulna, adding 53 runs for the third wicket.
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Khulna skipper Mahmudullah prepares to launch DHAKA TRIBUNE
But it was skipper Mahmudullah who set the tone with his highest 44 off just 26 balls with the help of three sixes and two fours. He is now the highest run getter for Khulna with 157 runs in six matches.
Australian right-hander Wessels provided valuable support to Mahmudullah, adding a 29-ball 40, featuring four boundaries and a six. All-rounder Ariful Haque also chipped in with a vital 22-ball 26 as Khulna posted a challenging total.
Barisal Bulls 129 in 19.3 overs
(Mushfiq 35, Shahriar 28, Shafiul 4/17) lost to Khulna Titans 151/7
(Mahmudullah 44, Wessels 40, Taijul 3/18) by 22 runs
WHAT THEY SAID
Khulna Titans captain Mahmudullah
Obviously I am very happy and all the credit goes to the bowlers as they bowled according to the plan. We still have some problems in our top-order but I think we will improve in the coming days. If the opening batsmen can provide us a good start, it helps the middle-order to cash in later on. And I think our fielding was outstanding. We were able to back the bowlers, which I think was brilliant. But still, I think we were 15-20 runs short when we went out to bat. We tried to play as a unit, which has been the biggest strength of our side. Hopefully we can continue the brand of cricket we have been playing in the upcoming matches.
Barisal Bulls skipper Mushfiqur Rahim
I think our bowlers did a good job as you see, 150-odd is not a huge score. It’s a fighting score in T20s. But our batting has been the major problem. The top four batters were unable to give us the start we wanted. The intent was not there. Maybe they tried but failed. We were unable to get a boundary for at least five-six overs, which was also very crucial, as you know in T20 cricket, things can change in a short time. But still, we have six more games left in the tournament. I think if we can play better cricket, the result will come to our favour. But at the same time, those who are in good touch like me and Shahriar Nafees, we need to score the bulk of runs for the team along with the others.
M W L PTS
6 5 1 10
6 4 2 8
5 4 1 8
6 3 3 6
6 2 4 4
5 1 4 2
6 1 5 2