Rajshahi Kings 129 for 3 (Sabbir 43*, Franklin 30*) beat Khulna Titans 125 for 9 (Ariful 32*, Patel 3-19) by seven wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Rajshahi Kings made light work of Khulna Titans in the second qualifier on their way to the BPL final, against Dhaka Dynamites, completing a seven-wicket win in Mirpur. In front of a small crowd at the Shere Bangla National Stadium, they restricted Khulna to a below-par 125 for 9 before knocking off the total with four balls to spare.
Their efficient bowling performance ensured a maiden appearance in the tournament's final after their previous franchise (Duronto Rajshahi) failed to do so in the 2012 and 2013 editions.
But it was not an altogether smooth chase for Rajshahi. They lost their openers Mominul Haque and Nurul Hasan within 4.2 overs after which youngster Afif Hossain led the recovery with a 33-run third-wicket stand with Sabbir Rahman. He fell lbw to Mahmudullah in the 12th over after hitting three fours in his 27-ball 26.
Sabbir batted in an unusual subdued manner before unleashing his first six off the 35th delivery. His unbeaten 43 off 52 balls broke a three-week low which started one innings after his 122 against Barisal Bulls.
His unbroken 62-run fourth wicket stand with James Franklin calmly completed the chase, with Franklin contributing an unbeaten 30 off 24 balls. His first six, a big one down the ground, completed the win.
Khulna were always behind the eight-ball after starting poorly. Openers Mohammad Hasanuzzaman and Abdul Mazid were run-out in the third over. First they were involved in a mix-up after Hasanuzzaman pushed the ball into the covers, with both ending up at the striker's end. In the process of running him out at the other end, wicketkeeper Nurul Hasan rammed into Farhad Reza, hurting him.
Two balls later, Mehedi Hasan's direct hit from short midwicket found Mazid short by inches after he turned back from taking a single. After Farhad removed Shuvagata Hom in the fourth over, Nicholas Pooran fell following two sixes and as many fours, giving an easy catch to long-off off Afif.
Samit Patel then removed Benny Howell, Mahmudullah and Kevon Cooper before Kesrick Williams and Darren Sammy took the eighth and ninth wickets respectively.
There was still time for Khulna to post a better total, with Ariful Haque hitting two fours and a straight six in his unbeaten 32 off 29 balls, but it did not prove to be enough.