Rajshahi Kings kept themselves alive in the running for a place in the playoffs after defeating Chittagong Vikings by six wickets in their Bangladesh Premier League T20 2016-17 season match in Mirpur on Saturday. Rajshahi's young off-spinner Afif Hossain was the star of the show, picking up five wickets in his maiden BPL appearance.
Chasing Chittagong's 111/9, Rajshahi comfortably chased down their target with 6.1 overs to spare.
The equation for the playoffs just got a whole lot interesting as Chittagong, Rajshahi, Khulna Titans and Rangpur Riders all have 12 points each. Khulna and Rangpur though still have a game in hand.
However, it is Chittagong who are second courtesy a better net run rate.
Table-toppers Dhaka Dynamites have already sealed their place in the playoffs with 16 points. They will face Khulna in their last game while defending champions Comilla Victorians will take on Rangpur in the all-important clash on Sunday.
Chasing 112, Rajshahi lost three quick wickets, that of Nurul Hasan (12), Mominul Haque (21) and Sabbir Rahman (eight) but New Zealand all-rounder James Franklin made sure his side reached the target in double quick time.
The left-hander remained unbeaten on 63 off just 27 balls, featuring four sixes and five fours.
[caption id="attachment_37938" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]
Rajshahi's James Franklin plays a shot during his unbeaten 27-ball 63 DHAKA TRIBUNE
Earlier, the 17-year old Afif attracted all the attentions bagging 5/21 from his four overs, including a maiden, thus making himself the youngest bowler to take five wickets and also the first Bangladeshi to take five wickets in T20 cricket.
Afif was struck for two consecutive fours in his first two balls by Jahurul Islam but came back strongly to dismiss the batsman leg-before wicket.
The off-spinner went on to pick up the huge wicket of West Indies giant-hitter Chris Gayle and did not have to look back since then as he helped restrict Chittagong to a small total.
Pakistan batsman Shoaib Malik was the lone fighter for Chittagong. He was not out on 67 off 54 balls, featuring six fours and three sixes, but all the other batsmen failed to score significantly.
Rajshahi Kings 112/4 in 13.5 overs
(Franklin 63*, Saqlain 2/9, Imran 2/30) beat Chittagong Vikings 111/9
(Malik 67, Afif 5/21, Williams 2/11) by six wickets
M W L PTS
11 8 3 16
12 6 6 12
12 6 6 12
11 6 5 12
11 6 5 12
11 4 7 8
12 4 8 8
Comilla Victorians v Rangpur Riders, 1pm
Dhaka Dynamites v Khulna Titans, 5:45pm
Both games will be held at SBNS, Mirpur