Rafique fireworks light up T20 Premier League
Twelve of Dhaka's best clubs took part in the glitzy Big Boss T20 Premier League, a week-long tournament in October, with Abahani Limited taking the title with a five-wicket win over Gazi Tank under lights at the Shere Bangla Stadium in Mirpur. The star of the final was one of Bangladesh cricket's most dedicated servants, Mohammad Rafique, whose power hitting in the tense, final stages helped Abahani clinch the bragging rights and the Tk 200,000 (US$2890) winners' cheque.
Wednesday's final seemed to slipping away from Abahani when they needed 42 off 18 balls, chasing 145. But Rafique smashed three consecutive sixes in the 18th over bowled by left-arm spinner Abdur Razzak, and in the following over took on the opposition captain Alok Kapali for two more sixes to bring the equation down to four off the last over. Another six sealed the game as he rounded off a fine all-round show with figures of 2 for 23 earlier in the evening.
The final was well attended, with a live performance by pop singer Mila to add to the glamour. Satellite channel Desh TV televised seven matches live, including the semi-finals and the final. The games in Mirpur had cheer girls, a DJ, SMS quiz competition and fireworks to keep the fans engaged.
The tournament began on October 14 and featured 34 games across three venues, including seven day-night games. Group A featured Mohammadan SC, Bangladesh Biman, Khelaghar Samaj Kalyan Samity, Partex Sporting Club, BKSP and Victoria Sporting. Group B had Gazi Tank Cricketers, Old DOHS Club, Kalabagan Krira Chakra, Abahani Limited, Surjo Turon Club and Cricket Coaching School. There was a bit of controversy with the scheduling after Mohammedan were not allotted a single day-nighter in the initial fixture. After raising the issue, they managed to secure one day-night game.
While opener Tamim Iqbal lit up the opening day with 60 for Mohammadan against Victoria, Khelagar emerged the surprise package for the semi-finals, where they faced Gazi Tank. However, there was a three-way tie for a single semi-final spot from Group B. Abahani, Surjo Torun and Kalabagan were tied at four points each before the final round of matches. Abahani comprehensively beat Cricket Coaching School by seven wickets, while Kalabagan beat Surjo Tarun. A better head-to-head record with Kalabagan clinched the spot for Abahani.
Imrul Kayes' 46 helped Abahani chase down 165 in the semi-final against Mohammadan. The other deciding clash was a rather one-sided affair, with Khelagar managing only 95. Gazi's Mithun Ali smashed an unbeaten 69 to steer his team home comfortably. Gazi were well-placed in the final to take the title, before Rafique crashed their party.
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a sub-editor at Cricinfo