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Afridi rolls back the years as Smith-less Comilla triumph

Shahid Afridi celebrates with Imrul Kayes Raton Gomes/BCB

Comilla Victorians 130 for 5 (Anamul 40, Lewis 28) beat Rajshahi Kings 124 (Udana 32, Mehidy 30, Afridi 3-10) by five wickets

How the game played out

First, he takes wickets with ripping legbreaks, not always associated with Shahid Afridi's style of bowling. Then he comes, sees out a few deliveries - surprise, surprise - and with victory all but certain, seals it with a six. While the Test team continues to struggle in South Africa, at least one Pakistani cricketer is giving his country something to rejoice at.

Comilla Victorians hardly felt Steven Smith's absence, both as a leader and batsman. His replacement - the experienced Imrul Kayes - tactfully used his spinners to reduce Rajshahi Kings to 63 for 7, but relaxed a little to see Isusu Udana top score with 32 hard-fought runs to set up a 125 chase. The damage had been done in dewy conditions, though. Anamul Haque, Ewin Lewis and Tamim Iqbal set up the chase which Comilla finished off with eight balls to spare, their second in three games. Afridi's 4-0-10-3 earned him the Player-of-the-Match Award.

Turning points

Mohammad Saifuddin, the medium pacer, wasn't originally given the ball to bowl the third over of the innings. Liam Dawson had marked his run-up and given his cap to the umpire when Imrul made a late change. It worked immediately as the skiddy bowler picked up two wickets in two deliveries. First he had Mominul Haque playing all around a full delivery to be trapped plumb in front of middle. Then, he bowled the perfect inswinging yorker that sneaked past Soumya Sarkar's bat and pad to flatten his stumps. Hafeez then averted the hat-trick, but the early damage had been done.

Afridi's crucial wicket of Mehidy Hasan, the Rajshahi Kings captain, who made a 17-ball 30 where most other top-order batsmen struggled, completed a top-order meltdown of sorts. Rajshahi went on to lose three wickets in four deliveries, losing the cream of their middle order.

Shoaib Malik's run-out and Mustafizur Rahman's set-up to get Imrul - reminiscent of Jasprit Bumrah's dipping, slow yorker that removed Shaun Marsh during the MCG Test - breathed life into the game. Comilla had slipped to 109 for 5. Soon after, Afridi got a thick edge which Mehidy failed to latch on to at a wide slip. Six down with a handful against a skilled bowler may have panned out differently.

Star of the Day

One month can be a long break for a retired 38-year-old cricketer, but looking at Afridi running around, it seemed like he had the boisterous energy of his 18-year-old avatar. He was coolly pedaling away on the cycle with his pads on as his team-mates set up the chase for him to come and finish off. An hour earlier, he was turning them big on a sluggish deck that has seen plenty of cricket already. With Smith away in Australia to nurse an injured elbow, he was also constantly by Imrul's side, being a driving force from a leadership point of view, too.

The big miss

Between them, Udana and Mustafizur Rahman took 5 for 33 off eight overs in the previous game. Udana's back-of-the-hand variations and Mustafizur's cutters could have been a handy proposition early in Rajshahi's defence of a modest target. Mehidy waited for five overs to bring them into the attack, by which time Comilla had raced to 42 for no loss. This made a big difference.

Where they stand

Comilla jumped to third and are within two points of Dhaka Dynamites, the table toppers. Rajshahi, meanwhile, are placed sixth, with one win in three matches.

Victorians 2nd innings Partnerships

WktRunsPlayers
1st65Anamul HaqueE Lewis
2nd22Tamim IqbalAnamul Haque
3rd14Tamim IqbalImrul Kayes
4th8Shoaib MalikImrul Kayes
5th0Shahid AfridiImrul Kayes
6th21Shahid AfridiLA Dawson

Bangladesh Premier League

TEAMMWLPTNRR
DD853101.361
CHV651100.357
CV85310-0.037
RR84480.264
RK7438-0.368
SS7254-0.809
KT8172-0.867