Rangpur Riders came back to winning ways in the Bangladesh Premier League after their seven-run win over Sylhet Sixers at the Shere Bangla National Stadium today.
Chris Gayle and Brendon McCullum lived up to their billing as the star opening act but the Bangladeshi duo, Sabbir Rahman and Nasir Hossain , gave Rangpur a real scare before Sylhet’s chase faded away.
Rangpur now have two wins in five outings while Sylhet continue to struggle, losing for the fourth time. They haven’t won a game since leaving their home territory almost two weeks ago.
Gayle played out a maiden over bowled by Hossain, a sure sign of settling down for the Jamaican giant. As he took things slowly, McCullum swatted Shuvagata Hom for two sixes in the second over before Danushka Gunathilaka dropped McCullum’s offering of a return catch in the fourth over.
In the following over, Gayle officially got underway in the BPL. He slammed Nasir over his head for his first six before Gunathilaka was tonked for two sixes in a row, on either side of long on. He hit his fourth and fifth sixes off Liam Plunkett and Nasir, both over the square leg-side field.
When Nasir got McCullum in the ninth over, Rangpur started to slow down. McCullum had made 33 off 21 balls with three fours and as many sixes; in the 11th over it was Gayle who left, bowled by Abul Hasan for 50 off 39 balls, with his five sixes and two fours.
With the destructive pair gone, Mohammad Mithun and Shahriar Nafees played out 14 balls without going anywhere before Andre Fletcher took a superb catch at backward point to get rid of Nafees in the 13th over. Only Ravi Bopara hit a six among the middle-order batsmen, as Rangpur reached 169-7 in 20 overs.
Hasan finished with 2 for 24 from his four overs while there was a wicket each for Nasir, Bresnan and Plunkett.
Sohag Gazi got the initial breakthrough, removing Gunathilaka in the second over. Babar Azam, playing his first match for Sylhet, holed out to deep midwicket off Mashrafe Mortaza before Andre Fletcher’s dismissal in the fourth over, caught behind off Rubel Hossain, made it 25 for three.
Sabbir and Nasir played well thereafter, for the first time in the tournament. The pair added 117 runs for the fourth wicket, taking only 13.4 overs. Sabbir made 70 off 49 balls with seven fours and two sixes but when he fell in the 18th over, Sylhet slipped out of the chase.
Nasir ended up unbeaten on 50 off 43 balls with a four and a six while Tim Bresnan struck a six off the last ball but to no avail.
Mashrafe, Sohag, Rubel and Thisara Perera took one wicket each as they combined to bring the big-spending Rangpur side a much-needed win.