Hider, Zaidi grab four each as Comilla storm into final
Comilla Victorians 163 for 7 (Kayes 67, Perera 5-26) beat Rangpur Riders 91 (Zaidi 4-11, Hider 4-19) by 72 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
An inspired Comilla Victorians crushed Rangpur Riders in a 72-run win to qualify to the BPL final. They not only withstood Thisara Perera's five-wicket burst and a threatening start from the Rangpur openers, but also shrugged off their own injury-ravaged roster. Rangpur will now have a second shot in the second Qualifier on Sunday, facing the winner of the Eliminator.
Comilla missed the services of Shoaib Malik due to a finger injury and used Nuwan Kulasekara, who bowled with a shoulder injury. The most heart-warming sight was to of the captain Mashrafe Mortaza, carrying a Grade-1 right hamstring tear, sending down four overs for only 13 runs, taking one wicket.
Comilla batted well in two patches either side of Perera's wickets. Imrul Kayes cracked 67 at the start and Ashar Zaidi slugged two sixes in a 15-ball 40 to power them to a total of 163.
Rangpur began the chase in perfect manner. In the third over, Soumya Sarkar struck Shuvagata Hom for a reverse-swept four before Lendl Simmons added three more boundaries through the leg-side. Andre Russell then dropped Soumya, pedalling back from mid-off in the fifth over. But Rangpur's fall began the very next ball.
Running from deep midwicket, Shuvagata made up for his 17-run over with a superb catch at the square-leg boundary to get rid of Soumya, who made just nine. Abu Hider then made it two wickets off two balls when he removed Simmons with a stunning yorker, the batsman falling over and the ball ricocheting off his pads and into the stumps.
Zaidi bowled a maiden in the sixth over, and Mortaza gave away just a single off the next over, his first in the tournament since December 8. The pressure told, as Zaidi had Mohammad Mithun stumped and Shakib Al Hasan caught at deep midwicket off the next ball. Mohammad Nabi struck a six and a four but fell to Mashrafe in the 11th over before Hider came into the picture again, this time with a running catch to get rid of Jahurul Islam. At 62 for 6, Rangpur were well past gone in the chase.
Hider came back to bowl his second over and saw Ahmed Shehzad drop a simple chance at long-on off Perera's bat before clean bowling him a ball later. Zaidi's fourth wicket was of Darren Sammy in the 16th over, the arm ball capping a stunning all-round display. Hider then picked up another to bag his second four-for in the tournament and become its highest wicket-taker with 21 scalps.
Put in to bat, Comilla waited till the end of the third over to find the boundary, Kayes swatting Arafat Sunny through square-leg. Liton Das struck one four in a labored 37-ball 28 but Kayes kept the run rate up with two fours each off Shakib and Mohammad Nabi in the fifth and sixth over. A Kayes blast over cover, off Al-Amin Hossain, then brought up Comilla's highest opening stand in the tournament as well as the longest opening partnership from a team batting first this season.
Liton fell to a beautiful delivery from Saqlain Sajib in the eleventh over before Kayes reached his first fifty of the season, and his second overall in the tournament.
Mashrafe's promotion of himself and Andre Russell to No 3 and No. 4 didn't work, and the captain's wicket began the Perera show. The Sri Lankan seamer then dismissed Russell and had Kayes caught and bowled, ending a 48-ball knock that included seven fours and two sixes. Both those sixes came off Shakib, who also had a stumping missed by Mithun when Kayes was on 58.
When Shehzad was trapped leg-before for a golden duck at the end of the 16th over, Perera had picked up his first T20 four-for and although he didn't complete the hat-trick in the next over, he finished with 5 for 26 from his four overs with the wicket of Alok Kapali. Courtesy of Zaidi's 15-ball 40 in the last 4.3 overs, Comilla took their score to 163 for 7. He struck four fours and two sixes, one a straight blast off Sunny and the next a hit over midwicket off Nabi who gave away 18 runs in the last over.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84