Rubel Hossain's four-wicket haul after dazzling performance with the bat from Towhid Hridoy and Zakir Hasan earned Sylhet Strikers a comprehensive 31-run win over Khulna Tigers in their third and final home match in this year’s Bangladesh Premier League on Monday.
Towhid and Zakir lit up the Sylhet International Cricket Stadium with scores of 74 off 49 balls and 53 off 38 balls respectively to power Sylhet to 192-4 in their 20 overs.
Khulna’s reply never quite got off the ground as Sylhet kept chipping away with wickets in regular succession and in the end restricted them to 161-9 in 20 overs.
Experienced pacer Rubel was the most successful Sylhet bowler as he finished with 4-37 and became the second only bowler after Shakib Al Hasan to take more than 100 wickets in BPL.
It took the right-arm pacer 80 BPL matches to reach the landmark.
Earlier, sent to bat, Sylhet lost opener Najmul Hossain Shanto (six off 12 balls), which brought Towhid and Zakir together at the middle.
The duo then took control of the match with a 114-run partnership off just 65 balls.
Towhid, the aggressor of the two, hit nine fours in a masterful innings while Zakir hit two fours and cleared the ropes for six runs four times.
Pacer Nahid Rana broke the rollicking partnership by getting Towhid caught at extra-cover in the 16th over.
The following over, Zakir also followed him to the dressingroom after getting bowled by Nahidul Islam.
After losing two set batsmen in quick succession, Sylhet were at risk of floundering in the final overs.
But Zimbabwean batter Ryan Burl (21 off 11 balls) and Sri Lankan all-rounder Thisara Perera (17 off seven balls) made sure that Sylhet would finish with a flurry and post a daunting total for Khulna.
In reply, Caribbean batter Shai Hope and Pakistan’s Azam Khan were the only Khulna batsmen to show some fight, scoring an identical 33 off 22 and 17 balls respectively.
But neither of them could stretch their innings and the rest of the batting line-up crumbled under the pressure of the demanding required rate.
In the end, Khulna couldn’t get anywhere near their target and suffered their sixth defeat of the tournament.
The only worrying part in an otherwise joyous night for Sylhet is that their captain Mashrafe Bin Mortaza left the field hurt after bowling 1.1 overs. The nature of his injury, however, is still unclear.
This was Sylhet’s last match at their homeground. They started the Sylhet phase with a defeat against Rangpur Riders but bounced back with a win against Chattogram Challengers.
After the thumping win over Khulna, Sylhet now have eight wins in 10 games and are sitting at the top of the seven-team points-table.