Blazing Gayle fires Dhaka into final
Dhaka Gladiators 197 for 9 (Gayle 114, Sajidul 3-23) beat Sylhet Royals 193 for 6 (Mushfiqur 86) by four runs
Chris Gayle powered to his tenth Twenty20 hundred in Dhaka Gladiators' Race to the Final, but despite the huge target of 197 the Sylhet Royals gave spirited chase, and ultimately fell just short of the 24 runs they needed in the final over. With five runs needed off the last ball, Elton Chigumbura swung Mashrafe Mortaza to deep midwicket, where Darren Stevens held the catch to seal Gladiators' berth in the final of the BPL.
Royals captain Mushfiqur Rahim had batted steadily for most of the chase, keeping his side on par with the Gladiators at the 10th and 15th-over marks. He had an 82-run stand with Dwayne Smith, who made 41, for the third wicket and added 46 runs with Nazmul Hossain Milon.
With 55 to defend in the last four overs, the Gladiators got two good overs from Alfonso Thomas and Shakib Al Hasan. Thomas bowled a good penultimate over to give his captain Mashrafe Mortaza 24 runs to defend in the 20th. He nearly made a mess of it, bowling a crucial no-ball when Anamul Haque had caught Mushfiqur, who was eventually run out off the next ball for 86 off 44 balls. Chigumbura was dropped soon after by Raqibul Hasan at deep square leg but was not able to hit the final ball over the boundary.
The result validated Gladiators' last-minute buy - Gayle. The Jamaican blasted 114 off 51 deliveries, hitting 12 towering sixes. His ninth six was the longest in the tournament at 103 metres and it nearly reached the second tier of the stands behind long-on. It was the third hundred of the season, and the highest so far.
The Royals' fielders stood with hands on hips and necks craned, following the path of those big hits. They had been on top until the 10th over, having reduced the Gladiators to 64 for 5. Tillakaratne Dilshan was out off the first ball of the innings to Sohag Gazi, before Mohammad Ashraful was caught at fine leg off Chigumbura. Shakib Al Hasan blasted 38 off 21 balls with four sixes but he was cleaned up by debutant Sajidul Islam, who then removed Stevens off the next ball. Anamul's dismissal in the ninth over was a major blow, but it just opened up the arena to two of the biggest hitters in the field.
The Gayle-Kieron Pollard partnership played out two quiet overs, but the pair got going in the 14th over, taking 24 off Suharwadi Shuvo. Gayle scored 23 of those, striking three sixes and a boundary. He smashed Nazmul Hossain Milon for 29 runs in the 17th over, and took 16 off Sajidul in the next, also bringing up his century. He soon got out, and the Gladiators' tail couldn't take the total past the 200-run mark.
The result meant the Royals will have to face the winner of the knockout match between Chittagong Kings and Duronto Rajshahi.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent