Comilla Victorians 166 for 2 (Lewis 71*, Anamul 39) beat Rangpur Riders 165 for 5 (Howell 53*, Gayle 46, Saha 1-14) by eight wickets
How the game played out
Comilla Victorians' disciplined display with the ball was followed by a perfectly calculated chase to book their place in the final of BPL 2018-19 with a comfortable eight-wicket win over Rangpur Riders.
The regular season leaders looked out of sorts after a mandatory reshuffle to their top-order due to the end of AB de Villiers six-match contract and Alex Hales' return home due to a shoulder injury. Domestic batsmen Mehedi Maruf and Mohammad Mithun combined for a total of four runs in place of both departed overseas stars as Riders could manage only 34 for 2 at the end of the Powerplay.
A late burst by Benny Howell, who made an unbeaten 53 off 28 balls as part of a 70-run fifth-wicket stand alongside BPL 2018-19 scoring leader Rilee Rossouw, gave them a respectable total. But many of Riders' wins with de Villiers in the lineup were orchestrated with scoreboard pressure by batting teams out of the match.
The Riders bowling unit had no such luxury to fall back on in this instance and Evin Lewis steered Victorians chase with excellent support from Anamul Haque and Shamsur Rahman. The contributions of the latter two exposed Riders' lack of contributions from local batsmen all season. Shamsur turned on the afterburners with four boundaries off the last seven balls of the match to end with an unbeaten 34 off 15 balls, clinching victory with seven balls to spare.
Chris Gayle was well-set on 46, but one over after being dropped on the boundary, he skied another chance off Mahedi Hasan that was taken by Thisara Perera to start the 11th over
Playing just his second match of the season, Sanjit Saha's unorthodox offspin action kept Riders batsmen off balance all day, culminating in Ravi Bopara being caught down the leg side in the 13th over
Despite a lack of wickets, Riders had done well to build pressure in the field by denying boundaries but with 38 off four overs needed, Ravi Bopara finally cracked allowing a six and four to Shamsur Rahman in a 13-run 17th over
Star of the day
Lewis played a somewhat understated knock, if such a thing is possible when top-scoring with 71 not out off 53 balls. After back-to-back fours off Sohag Gazi to begin the fourth over, he never hit more than one boundary in any over. But every time it appeared he might be getting bogged down, he'd find a release shot, like slaying Farhad Reza over deep midwicket for six to bring up a 42-ball half-century at the end of the 13th over. He made sure the required run rate never got out of hand.
The big miss
Rangpur had two wins and four losses halfway through the regular season before de Villiers joined to spark a six-game winning streak. His departure for the playoff phase left a gaping hole in Riders' batting unit. Combined with the injury to Hales, Riders looked nothing like the team that topped the points table in the league phase.
Where the teams stand
Riders now will face Dhaka Dynamites in the Qualifier 2 on Wednesday. The winner will face Victorians in the tournament final on Friday.