Al-Amin, Cooper help Barisal defend 135
Barisal Bulls 135 for 5 (Sabbir 41, Mustafizur 2-21) beat Dhaka Dynamites 117 for 8 (Cooper 3-17, Al-Amin 3-15) by 18 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Barisal Bulls booked a shot at the BPL final after they edged out Dhaka Dynamites by 18 runs in the Eliminator. Barisal's efficient bowling made up for their lackluster batting in a contest that was not entirely a nail-biter but had its share of thrills for the packed house in Mirpur.
Barisal will now face Rangpur Riders, who were overwhelmed by Comilla Victorians in the first qualifier earlier in the day, in the second qualifier on Sunday.
Defending just 135, Barisal's bowlers did well to cut down the boundaries; from the start of the 13th over till the 17th, they did not allow a single boundary to be hit. In a T20 game being played on a soft wicket, perhaps boundaries are hard to find, but still, Barisal's discipline was still admirable. Dhaka hardly could force the pace for most of the innings.
With 59 required from the last five overs, Kevon Cooper gave away just five runs in the 16th over, but the boundary duck of 20 balls was broken in the following over, when Malcolm Waller carved sixes over cover and point off Mohammad Sami, in between a thick edge past the wicketkeeper. Sami's over went for 20, leaving Dhaka needing 34 off 18 balls.
Mosaddek Hossain's switch-slog off Taijul went for six, but Waller's conventional slog sweep was caught at the midwicket boundary. Mosaddek too fell off the last ball of the 18th over, his wild swing caught at point comfortably. It meant Dhaka had lost their last two batting hopes in the same over, with another 26 still required. Cooper then removed Yasir Shah to pick up Dhaka's eighth wicket and gave away just four runs in the penultimate over.
The 22 runs in the final over was a bridge too far for Dhaka, as they bowed out through some jumbled thinking in their batting approach.
At the start of their chase, Dhaka sent Abul Hasan to open the batting with Farhad Hossain, becoming the ninth opening batsman for them in the competition. Hasan struck two fours but could not really up the ante, falling for 11 off 14 balls in the fourth over. Mohammad Hafeez's miserable time with the bat continued, this time falling to a catch at midwicket for 1 in the sixth over.
Farhad Reza soldiered on for a run-a-ball 20, until he too was dismissed in the eighth over, caught behind chasing a wide one from Al-Amin Hossain. The required run-rate kept rising and Dhaka got a reprieve when wicketkeeper Rony Talukdar dropped a tough chance off Nasir Hossain's thin edge in the ninth over. But Al-Amin got one to bounce awkwardly at Kumar Sangakkara, who popped a catch back to the bowler, as Barisal celebrated a big wicket near the 10-over mark. Dhaka had lost their captain and best batsman with 84 runs needed from 60 balls.
Nasir was Al-Amin's third scalp, caught by Mahmudullah in the 14th over as the seamer ended his spell by giving away just 15 runs in his four overs.
Earlier, it was the Dhaka bowlers Nasir, Mustafizur Rahman, Yasir and Nabil Samad who combined well to keep Barisal to 135 for 5 in 20 overs. Barisal failed to take advantage of a 70-run second-wicket stand between Chris Gayle and Nasir , as the remaining batsmen to struggled to score with the same intensity.
Sabbir joined Gayle at the end of the first over after Talukdar was caught at long-on for four. Gayle blasted Mosaddek for two fours and a six in the second over before Sabbir hammered Abul Hasan for two sixes and a four in the sixth over. Thereafter, Sabbir struck three fours in the next three overs while Gayle slowed down. Gayle was eventually undone by a late inswinger from Mustafizur, falling for a 19-ball 31 that had four fours and two sixes.
Sabbir fell soon after, caught at long-off for 41 off 39 balls with three fours and three sixes. His wicket allowed the Dhaka bowlers to take control. Mehedi Maruf fell leg-before for 10 in the 16th over before Mahmudullah opened up with three fours in the 18th and final overs. He fell off the innings' penultimate ball, caught at short midwicket for 37 off 33 balls with four fours. Mahmudullah's bigger contribution, though, was his calm leadership on the field, as Barisal held on to keep their tournament alive.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84