DHAKA, Bangladesh – A scintillating Andre Russell half-century trumped Chris Gayle’s, as Rajshahi Royals stunned Chattogram Challengers by two wickets to storm into the Bangladesh Premier League final today.
Gayle’s sensational top score of 60 from 24 balls had propelled Challengers to 164 for nine off their 20 overs and when Royals slumped to 128 for eight in the 18th over, the result looked all but certain.
But Russell produced an amazing late blitz, smashing an unbeaten 54 from 22 balls to put Royals over the line with four balls to spare.
Royals will now take on Khula Tigers in Friday’s final.
Sent in, Challengers lost Ziaur Rahman cheaply for six at 22 for one in the third over but Gayle took responsibility for the innings, crunching half-dozen fours and five sixes in a thrilling knock.
Crucially, he put on 52 for the third wicket with captain Mahmudullah whose 33 required just 18 balls an included three fours and sixes.
Gayle eventually perished in the 10th over, bowled by 20-year-old off-spinner Afif Hossain, a dismissal which triggered a slide until Asela Gunaratne belted 31 from 25 balls to rescue the innings.
West Indies all-rounder, Rayad Emrit, managed just three batting at number eight.
In reply, Royals were tottering on 34 for three in the sixth over before wicketkeeper Irfan Sukkur carved out a patient 45 off 42 deliveries in adding 46 for the fourth wicket with Shoaib Malik (14).
But once both fell in successive overs, Royals lost five wickets for 48 runs in the space of 24 balls, to find themselves requiring 37 from 17 balls for victory.
Russell quickly took charge in an innings highlighted by two fours and seven massive sixes, silencing the Challengers attack and turning the tide in the contest.
He single-handedly took 23 runs from the penultimate over sent down by off-spinner Mehidy Hasan, before finishing the game with another six in the final over from medium pacer Gunaratne.
Seamer Emrit finished with two for 41 from his four overs. (CMC)