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17 January, 2020 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 16 January, 2020 11:17:42 PM
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Rajshahi, Khulna look for trophy

Sports Reporter, Dhaka
Rajshahi, Khulna
look for trophy
Khulna Tigers captain Mushfiqur Rahim (L) and his Rajshahi Royals’ counterpart Andre Russell pose for a photograph with the Bangabandhu BPL trophy at Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium yesterday ahead of final to be played today. BCB Photo

The drumbeat of the Akash-DTH Bangabandhu-Bangladesh Premier League (BPL), the special edition of the domestic blockbuster Twenty20 cricket tournament-2019-20, will end with the grand finale today. Khulna Tigers will round off against Rajshahi Royals to showcase their fire-power and mantra for the last time to triumph. The high-octane match will begin under floodlights at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Mirpur at 7:00pm.

En route the final, both Rajshahi and Khulna faced off each other in the round-robin league phase, where they had a mixed bag of results. Khulna thrashed Rajshahi by five wickets on December 17, while Rajshahi thumped Khulna by seven wickets on December 23.

But Khulna Tigers trumped Royals in the qualifier-1 match to storm into the final, when they beat them by 27 runs in the high-pressure game in front of a full-house local crowd at the Home of Cricket. Rajshahi later ensured their ticket for the final by beating Chattogram Challengers in the qualifier-2 match by virtue of pinch-hitting from its globe-trotting West Indies all-rounder Andre Russell. Both Rajshahi and Khulna turned up at the BCB-National Academy of the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium to hone their batting, bowling and fielding skills and techniques to tame the rival side in the decisive final showdown.

Both teams will devise a new gameplan and mechanism to clinch the coveted trophy, which was brought from the United Kingdom, especially made by London-based “Inner Man Company”. Both captains—Mushfiqur Rahim and Andre Russell—had posed for photographs with the  trophy of the special edition, which has been dedicated to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to mark his birth centenary.

Numerous changes from the ownership to the tournament structure have been made. Dhaka franchisees have clinched the trophy for the highest three times. Cumilla Victorians triumphed twice, while Rangpur Riders won the crown once.

However, this special edition got two new teams who never won the BPL title, though Rajshahi franchise played the final in the 2016–2017 season, but lost to Dhaka Dynamites. This year, Rajshahi Royals and Khulna Tigers were unarguably the most consistent teams. This was  obvious from the results of their round-robin league phase matches. Russell is the captain of a BPL team for the first time. So, he will try to achieve laurels, though he has won the BPL trophy for Dhaka on different occasions. “Going to a final, you’re expecting to win. So we have nothing else on our mind than winning,” he added.

“The way we played last night as a team, we showed what we can do and I hope we can give a good account of ourselves tomorrow night,” Russell told the media after a photo-session with the coveted trophy. When he was asked about the main challenges, the Rajshahi captain said they will make sure to execute their gameplan properly.

“We’re not going to look at any individual player. Try to get wickets at all times. You never know whose day it will be tomorrow and you can’t stop them. They have a lot of match winners so we’re gonna plan for the entire team. We’re going to make sure that we plan properly and come out and execute,” he also said.

“The toss is important. But you saw what happened when we played them a couple of nights ago: they batted first and put the runs on the board and put us on the backfoot. We kept losing wickets when chasing a decent target. So, if we bat first tomorrow, we’ve to try and get more than 170 runs. We’ve no control once that coin goes up in the air. Just have to hope that it falls on the side that you called so let’s see what happens,” he added.

However, the Khulna captain refrained from talking to the media. And so, team manager brought their head coach James Foster to talk to media. He said they have to play a better brand of cricket to beat them in final.  “We had a very good match against Rajshahi the other day. It was actually a lot closer than it looked in the end. They are a very good team and we have to play well tomorrow,” he added. It’s gonna be about the best cricket, smart cricket. Both are relying on powerful batting lineups and both teams have good options with the ball, said Foster.

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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