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Bangabandhu T20 Cup

Experience Chattogram takes on star-studded Khulna in Bangabandhu T20 Cup final





Photo: Photo - BCB , Roton Gomes

|| CF Correspondent ||

High flying Gazi Group Chattogram banking on their experience is firmly committed to come out all guns blazing as they face Gemcon Khulna in the Bangabandhu T20 Cup final at the She-e-Bangla National Stadium. In the double-leg group phase, Chattogram defeated Khulna twice—firstly beating them by nine wickets at quite convincingly after shooting out Mahmudullah Riyad-led side for 86 runs and second time, though they faced a tough battle, still came out the winner with a three-wicket victory.

But Khulna’s big guns delivered in the first Qualifier with Mashrafe ended with his maiden T20 five-for and deprived Chattogram to seal the final straightaway. That didn’t matter for Chattogram as they won the second Qualifier, crushing Beximco Dhaka by seven wickets.

Thus the top two teams of the tournament moved to the final, making it a high-voltage game.

Even though they lost just two games on the way to their final, Chattogram head coach Mohammad Salahuddin kept Khulna ahead in the crucial game because of their vast experience.

“I think in T20 games, experience always matters. Both of the teams are bolstered with experienced players but Khulna has more experience and so they are ahead of us,” Salahuddin said.

That doesn’t mean Salahuddin will give up the hopes of winning the trophy.

“During the players’ draft, we tried to rope in experienced and T20 experts for every position. I think our middle order is strong and they will deliver when it matters most,” he added.

Star-studded Khulna will be looking to make sure that the absence of their key player Shakib Al Hasan doesn’t make them pay in the final while they will be hoping that Mashrafee bin Mortaza comes up with another stellar performance that helped them reach the final on the first chance.

‘’There is no doubt that the inclusion of Mashrafe Bhai is a very positive aspect for our team. He is very experienced when we talk in and out of the dressing room and if we can share some of his experience it is always beneficial for me as well as for me,’’ he said.

‘’This is why I always talk to Mashrafe Bhai, trying to come up with a lot of ideas because he is not just one of the most successful captains in the history of our cricket. He has won four BPL trophies and four finals. His experience is certainly noteworthy,’’ he said adding that they are expected to miss the presence of Shakib though he never looked to dominate in the tournament.

Shakib flew to the USA after the first Qualifier game in which Khulna beat Chattogram by 47 runs to move to the final straightaway, due to be with his ailing father-in-law. However, his father-in-law passed away before he reached there.

The ace all-rounder hinted to be back at his best, playing a crucial role in Khulna win over Chattogram after his failure throughout the group phase. That Khulna expected that he would bring his game when it matters most was previously proved in the first Qualifier game. Therefore Shakib’s absence created a loophole, something which Khulna.

‘’If we had Shakib, it would have worked as a big positive for us because we all know about Shakib's capability. Even then, since Shakib is not there, it is a responsibility and an opportunity for all of us to perform well,’’ said Mahmudullah who is eyeing to pick his maiden championship in the shortest format despite leading Khulna in the Bangladesh Premier League for quite some time. Chattogram, mostly formed with the T20 experts demonstrated their calibre by winning the seven games in the eight in the group phase. They topped the table by far distance as the second-placed Khulna won just four matches.