Kieron Pollard nicked the battle of big-hitters against Carlos Brathwaite as the Shere Bangla National Stadium was enthralled by both batsman’s six-hitting abilities today.
Pollard’s 24-ball 55 – that had six huge sixes – helped Dhaka Dynamites to their third win in a row, this time beating Khulna Titans by four wickets in the final over.
Khulna had earlier made 156 for 5, a remarkable recovery from a sluggish 47 for three in the first 10 overs. The late addition came mostly through Brathwaite’s unbeaten 64 that included six sixes in the last 5.5 overs. Abu Hider took two wickets while Sunil Narine, Shakib Al Hasan and Shahid Afridi took one each.
Dhaka’s chase, however, started even poorer. They were 41 for 5 at one stage, but Pollard’s cluster of sixes brought them back into the game, before Jahurul Islam and Mosaddek Hossain took them to victory with a ball to spare.
Khulna struck only five boundaries in the first 10 overs after being sent to bat. They also lost Michael Klinger, Dhiman Ghosh and Nazmul Hossain Shanto during the same period. The lack of boundaries played a big factor in each of these batsmen’s dismissals.
Klinger’s cross-bat took a top edge and was well caught at mid-on by Hider, off Shakib. The bowler-fielder combination then switched roles as Hider took Dhiman’s wicket in the sixth over, the skier taken in the second attempt by Shakib.
Narine easily scalped Shanto in the tenth over when the batsman charged him needlessly, only to be stumped by Jahurul Islam for a 25-ball 24.
Eerily similar to their previous game, Brathwaite got into his stride soon after Mahmudullah got out. He first struck Afridi for two sixes in the space of three balls, first over the bowler’s head and then over midwicket. Shakib then went for 17 runs in the 16th over, which included another six over midwicket that went deeper than the one in the previous over.
Rilee Rossouw got out in the next over to end the rapid 54-run fifth-wicket stand but Brathwaite struck his fourth six before reaching his maiden T20 fifty off just 25 balls. In the final over, both his sixes off Hider went straight, the second slightly bigger than the first. He finished with six maximums in his unbeaten 29-ball 64.
Dhaka, too, slipped like Khulna in the first half of their innings. Abu Jayed had Evin Lewis sky to mid-off in the first over, Afridi slammed one to cover in the second over before Jofra Archer bowled Cameron Delport with a quick delivery. Mahmudullah took a sharp catch to remove Narine and Dhaka’s crisis deepened further in the ninth when Shakib was caught for 20.
But the scenario changed in the space of five balls, of which four went for sixes off Pollard’s bat. All of those went over long on, despite Mahmudullah’s varying lengths. That over, the innings’ 11th, cost 25 runs. Pollard didn’t spare Brathwaite either, hitting his compatriot for two sixes, both on the leg side in the 13th over that cost 20 runs. From a precarious position, Dhaka had reduced the chase to 58 off the last seven overs.
Jofra Archer, whose pace has troubled a few batsmen in the BPL, used it to good effect in the 14th over. He gave away just three runs, after which Shafiul picked up the key wicket of Pollard in the following over. Much of the credit for Pollard’s wicket, however, should go to Archer for bringing some control to the Khulna attack. Between the 14th and 17th overs, Khulna conceded only two fours as Dhaka went left needing 27 off the last three overs.
The lack of contribution from the local players had been a concern in the BPL but the way Jahurul and Mosaddek played out the last 5.1 overs should be appeasing. They narrowed the chase down with two balls to go, but Jahurul’s reverse off Brathwaite, with four needed, was superbly executed. The pair added 43 in their unbroken seventh-wicket stand.