Dhaka Gladiators v Sylhet Royals, BPL 2012-13, Khulna January 25, 2013

Mushfiqur steers Royals to comfortable victory

Sylhet Royals 157 for 3 (Mushfiqur 75*, Thomas 2-27) beat Dhaka Gladiators 152 for 8 (Ashraful 38, Nannes 2-27) by seven wickets

Sylhet Royals achieved their fourth win in a row to lead the points table, beating Dhaka Gladiators by seven wickets in Khulna in the first big match-up of this year's BPL. Dhaka also went in the game unbeaten but fall to second after their first loss. The Royals' victory was secured by an expertly paced innings from their captain, Mushfiqur Rahim, who scored an unbeaten 75 from 50 balls, hitting three fours and four sixes to shepherd the chase of 153 in front of a near full house.

After an initial burst from Gladiators' seamer Alfonso Thomas, Royals lifted the pace with a 79-run stand in 61 balls between Mushfiqur and Mominul Haque, before the latter was caught at long-on for 37. When the big hits were needed, Nazmul Hossain Milon, who made 25 off 17 balls, added 55 for an unbeaten fourth-wicket stand with Mushfiqur, smashing six sixes between them. The Gladiators' bowling, apart from Thomas and Saqlain Sajib, looked ineffective.

In contrast to Royals' innings, Gladiators weren't able to control theirs well. Mohammad Ashraful and Anamul Haque scored in the thirties, though neither could push the tempo at the top of the order. Darren Stevens and Josh Cobb lifted the run rate with a few sixes but the Royals kept taking wickets. Mohammad Nabi and Dirk Nannes took two wickets each, while the others too chipped in, and also kept it tight, Sohag Gazi and Bishawnath Halder in particular.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent