POST TIME: 23 January, 2019 00:00 00 AM
Rangpur stalwarts stand tall
Gayle, Hales, De Villiers shine with willow
Sports Reporter, Dhaka

Rangpur stalwarts stand tall

Rangpur Riders’ South African batting legend AB de Villiers smashes a boundary as Khulna Titans wicketkeeper Brandan Taylor looks on during their BPL-6 match at Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in the capital yesterday. BCB Photo

Rangpur Riders demonstrated their batting might to seal a six-wicket victory over Khulna Titans in Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) yesterday at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium.

The team’s big guns fashioned the apparently facile victory to take the side to the third position in the point table with eight points in eight matches. Opener Alex Hales provided the early blitz with 29 ball-55, AB de Villiers kept up the momentum, clubbing 25 ball-41 while Chris Gayle upped the ante when it momentarily felt like the Titans were clawing back into the game, smashing 40 ball-51. Thereafter Rilee Rossouw finished it off it style with a deep-square-leg six as Riders overhauled Titans’ hefty 181 for six, making 183 for fours with three balls to spare.

With the play-off equation gradually coming to the fore, more than their victory Rangpur will be satisfied with the form of Gayle, even though the Caribbean stalwart was circumspect at the large part of the game.

But his five sixes reminded the Gayle of old and hinted he was on course of gaining the Midas touch that made him the Universe Boss.

Hales eased the pressure off out-of-form Gayle in pursuit of big target, finding the boundaries at regular intervals. And as he reached his first BPL half-century off 26 balls with a straight six, Gayle was on just four off five balls.

Pakistan leg-spinner Yasir Shah, playing his first match for Khulna, removed Hales after he smacked eight fours and three sixes in his innings, but Gayle seemed to have found his feet as he smacked Yasir for two consecutive sixes.

de Villiers got off the mark with a boundary before going harsh on Yasir Shah to keep the asking run rate in the control but a reverse sweep against Khulna skipper Mahmudullah cost his wicket when it felt he was the man to seal the deal with his own. Villiers’ innings was contained with three fours and four sixes.

With Gayle still looking cautious despite hitting two sixes off Yasir, Khulna sensed a chance that was quickly evaporated. With caution and aggression, Gayle shared a 50-run partnership with Mohammad Mithun before he offered a catch right at edge of the boundary.

Khulna was excited with the wicket but it was short-lived as Rilee Rossouw handed them the seventh defeat in eighth matches to keep them at the bottom place of the point table.

However they scored enough to give them a chance to break the losing-streak. Even though no one from Khulna could hit a half-century, their team effort gave them a respectable total.

After the openers were removed cheaply, Brendan Taylor hit a 20 ball-32 to give them an impetus and Nazmul Hossain Shanto, aided by captain Mahmudullah Riyad laid a solid platform with 56 runs for the fourth wicket partnership.

Shanto was the highest scorer with 48 off 32, hitting two fours and three sixes while Riad made 29 off 20 that included a six and a four.

David Wiese came up with late onslaught, smashing a 15 ball-32 not out with three fours and two sixes as Khulna got a total to threaten a much-vaunted batting line of Rangpur Riders. However it mattered little on a day when three Rangpur stalwarts stood up firmly.