Sabbir 79 powers Barisal into final
Barisal Bulls 163 for 5 (Sabbir 79, Shahriar 44) beat Rangpur Riders 160 for 9 (Simmons 73, Cooper 4-39) by five wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Sabbir Rahman and Shahriar Nafees batted out of their skins to take Barisal Bulls to the BPL final, where they will face Comilla Victorians. The five-wicket win over Rangpur Riders came with three balls to spare, and it was sweeter as they won without the big-hitting Chris Gayle.
The match was going smoothly in Barisal's favour when Sabbir and Nafees were adding their 124-run, third-wicket stand, but it started to swing and turn in the last three overs. Sabbir was dropped on 77 in the 18th over by Darren Sammy at long-on off Thisara Perera's bowling. Two balls later, however, when the batsman tried to hoick over midwicket again, Sammy managed to balance himself on his left foot for about three seconds, nearly leaning into the rope but hanging on brilliantly.
One more run came from that over, leaving Barisal to score 19 from the last two overs. The first three balls of the 19th over went for five runs before Mahmudullah skied Sammy's slower ball straight to long-off where Perera took an easy catch. Rayad Emrit calmly slog-swept the next ball, also a slower one, for a six over deep midwicket before he was beaten off the last ball.
Barisal needed eight off the last over when Shakib handed the ball to Perera. He gifted a full-toss down the leg side first ball and Cooper's thin touch beat the diving wicketkeeper for four. Cooper squeezed one almost to the boundary next ball, but had to settle for two before he hammered a four off another full-toss to seal the win. The players and officials poured out of the Barisal dressing-room, rejoicing a tough climb to the final.
Barisal's start to the chase had been disastrous as they slipped to 10 for 2 in the third over. From such a tough position, with a place in the final on the line, Sabbir and Nafees put together the sixth hundred-plus stand in this year's competition. The third-wicket partnership started with a charge off Shakib, who gave away three fours in the fifth over. Mohammad Nabi was struck for a four and six through the leg side, before Nafees' thick outside edge took the ball past the wicketkeeper off Sammy.
Sabbir brought out the sweep in the eighth over, going for a fast four, before Nafees swung a boundary away off Abu Jayed in the tenth over. The pair picked up two fours off both Perera and Sammy in the next two overs.
Sabbir brought up his first half-century of this season's BPL in the 14th over, before sweeping past the deep midwicket and backward square leg fielders, again off Nabi. He didn't get to the pitch of a Saqlain Sajib delivery but the ball sailed over long-off, taking the partnership past the 100-run mark. With Barisal needing 43 off the remaining 30 balls, Nafees blasted Arafat Sunny through midwicket before Sabbir struck his third six, over midwicket. Nafees was run out in the next over, which was also Shakib's last, for 44 off 40 balls with six fours.
When Rangpur chose to bat, there were expectations from Lendl Simmons, who had only scored a single fifty in the tournament. He struck the first boundary for the side in the third over, tucking Mohammad Sami past short fine leg. His new opening partner, Abdullah Al Mamun, making his BPL debut, lofted Al-Amin Hossain over midwicket for a six, before Simmons, too, got his first six with a pull off Taijul Islam over midwicket.
The left-arm spinner was struck for two more fours in the same over before Seekkuge Prasanna clean-bowled Mamun for 20; the opening pair had added 52 in 8.3 overs. Soumya Sarkar continued his lean run, falling for only 6, though Sami took a good catch at long-off in the 11th over.
Simmons and Shakib added a quickfire 44 for the third wicket, though it was the Rangpur opener who took Al-Amin for a six over long-off, and hit fours down the leg side and past point off Emrit and Prasanna. Simmons was bowled by Sami for 73 off 57 balls, with nine fours and two sixes. He had laid enough of a platform for Rangpur's allrounders to go for broke in the last few overs.
Rangpur lost four wickets in the helter-skelter last over - two of them run-outs, while Cooper took the other two to complete his second four-for in the competition. Rangpur's good score of 160, however, was eclipsed by a valiant Barisal effort.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84