|| CF Correspondent ||
Cumilla Warriors’ aspiration to seal the play-off berth of the Bangabandhu Bangladesh Premier League (BBPL) was severely dented after they conceded a 34-run defeat to Khulna Tigers at Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium on Wednesday.
The defeat effectively blocked their way to amass 14 points, a standard mark to seal the play-off race. They have now 10 points in 11 matches, meaning they need to win the last game and would have to wait for the outcome of the other matches, should they seal the play-off.
Khulna Tigers who now have 12 points in 10 matches is in fourth position and placed them well for the play-off race.
Cumilla’s heartbreaking defeat was staged by two South Africans—Rilee Rossouw and Robbie Frylinck. While Rossouw smashed a 36 ball-71 not out to help Khulna post a hefty 179-2, Frylicnk grabbed 5-16 to wrap them up for 145 in 18.2 overs.
Frylinck’s first five-for in T20 cricket however is the second best bowling figure in this tournament, behind Wahab Riaz’s 5-8.
Rossouw’s undefeated 71 off 36, which was his fourth half-century in the tournament was studded by six fours and four sixes and took the side in a position of dominance after Cumilla sent them in batting first.
Openers Nazmul Hossan Shanto and Mehidy Hasan Miraz gave the side a decent start sharing 71 runs in 9.1 overs.
Considering the way they started, it was a bit slow progress and the situation worsened further when both of the batsmen departed in quick succession, leaving Khulna to 94-2 in 13th over.
Shanto struck four fours and one six in his 29 ball-38 before being dismissed by Soumya Sarkar.
Mehidy Miraz however made a run-a-ball-39 with two fours and as many sixes.
The departure of the set duo gave Cumilla a glimmer of hope to unsettle Khulna but Rossuow with the ably support of skipper Mushfiqur Rahim weathered their attack.
Despite having a slow start, they gradually got back their mojo and started dominating the bowlers in style to make them disarray.
As they went berserk at the death overs, Khulna hammered 58 runs in the last five overs to take the score closer to 180.
Mushfiqur was not out on 24 off 17, sending the ball across the rope twice.
Sabbir Rahman who was dropped from the team in the previous game returned to the side and gave Cumilla a hope to gun down the total with his first fifty in the tournament.
He struck 62 off 39 with seven fours and two sixes but got dismissed at a moment when his service was badly needed.
But he was key in keeping Cumilla in the game after they lost two wickets including Stiaan Van Zyl (12) and inform Dawid Malan (1) to be left to at tittering 31-2.
Sabbir stabilized the innings with a 51-run partnership with Soumya Sarkar, who made 22. Frylinck broke the partnership and also got the wicket of Mahidul Islam Ankan (0) in the same over.
As Cumilla’s hope looked diminished, Sabbir with the ably support from Yasir Ali, helped the side hit back. Things went on smoothly until Mohammad Amir dismissed Sabbir in 15th over.
Yasir who hit 27 off 15 with one four and two sixes was undone by a slower of Shahidul Islam after which Frylinck cleaned up the tail to give Khulna the much-needed victory.
Mohammad Amir (2-18) and Shahidul Islam (2-34) complemented Frylinck’s career-best bowling.