Comilla Victorians 151 for 9 (Narine 57, Moeen 38, Mujeeb 2-27, Shafiqul 2-31) beat Fortune Barishal 150 for 8 (Shykat 58, Gayle 33, Narine 2-15, Tanvir 2-25) by 1 run
How the match played out
The BPL title clash, after some fantastic pendulums swings, came down to three runs from one ball. On strike was Towhid Hridoy, with Mujeeb Ur Rahman 22 yards away from him. Shohidul Islam had the ball in his hand. The quick bowler sent in a wide half-volley, and Hridoy's powerless drive only reached the covers. They got one run, a second wasn't possible, and Litton Das broke the stumps at the striker's end to run Mujeeb out, and Comilla Victorians had scripted a remarkable recovery beat Fortune Barishal, by just one run.
Shohidul was the last action hero - Barishal needed just ten off the final over - but it was the brilliant Sunil Narine who made it all possible. At the start of the 18th over, Barishal had already lost a clutch of wickets but were at a healthy-looking 134 for 5, chasing 152 for victory. Narine conceded just two runs and picked up the wicket of Dwayne Bravo. If that was special, so was Narine's performance with the bat at the start of the match, when he smashed 57 off 23 balls after his captain Imrul Kayes had opted to bat.
Despite what Narine achieved on the night, though, Shohidul had work to do. The first two balls went for just three runs, before he bowled a wide, a somewhat contentious one that Comilla reviewed for a nick behind. It was shot down, leaving Barishal with seven to get from three. Hridoy got two of the next, and then had a huge slice of luck as Tanvir Islam dropped a sitter off him at deep midwicket next ball. They took two more, leaving three for the last ball. Then, Shohidul got it right.
Barishal will rue messing this one up. They could have closed the game out at various stages of the chase after restricting Comilla to 151 despite Narine's heroics at the top. Then they got to 107 for 2 in the 13th over courtesy Shykat Ali's 34-ball 58. But then they lost six wickets for 43 runs in 7.2 overs. Comilla cashed in.
Shykat became the second uncapped cricketer from Bangladesh to hit a half-century in a BPL final, after Irfan Sukkur had hit a 35-ball 52 for Rajshahi Royals in the 2019-20 final against Khulna Tigers.
Shykat's burst of boundaries - he hit 11 fours and a six - pushed Comilla against the wall, as he easily overshadowed his partner for the second wicket, Chris Gayle. He found the gaps with his nifty wristwork; he struck three fours through the point region, two through the covers, and hit two sweet straight drives. Shykat's only six came at midwicket, as he hit four fours on the leg side.
But after Shykat's 74-run second-wicket stand with Gayle, Barishal lost the plot completely.
Gayle started far too slowly before picking up speed a bit, and both Shakib Al Hasan and Nurul Hasan gave away their wickets well before the pressure had started to build. Najmul Hossain Shanto couldn't get the big hits going in the last five overs either, and then it all turned pear-shaped for Barishal as Narine, Mustafizur Rahman and Shohidul rose to the occasion.
Narine had already played his part, scoring just over a third of Comilla's runs in just 23 balls. He gave his team a rollicking start with four sixes in the first two overs. He hit straight, over extra-cover and swung leg side against Mujeeb and the left-arm quick Shafiqul Islam. Narine got to his fifty with three fours in a Shakib over, but after hitting Mehedi Hasan Rana for a straight six, he fell to the same bowler down the ground.
Much like Barishal did later, Comilla crashed after Narine's dismissal. Dwayne Bravo's brilliant pick-and-throw, while being off balance, accounted for Mahmudul Hasan Joy, and Faf du Plessis and Ariful Haque fell to Mujeeb, while Bravo had Imrul caught behind.
The difference, however, was that while Barishal couldn't get going after Shykat was dismissed, Comilla had Moeen Ali (38 in 32) and Abu Hider (19 in 27), who added 54 runs in 8.4 overs for the seventh wicket.
Shakib has now lost his third BPL final as captain - he has been part of two winning sides too - and his performance, 1 for 30 in four overs and a run-a-ball 7 when his team was in a comfortable position, wasn't enough on the day.
Shakib had, in the league phase, become the first cricketer to win Player-of-the-Match awards in five consecutive T20s. Although he didn't do well in the first qualifier, Barishal got through.
But ahead of the final, Shakib left the managed environment of the team's hotel for an ad shoot. The team had initially said that he had stomach trouble, when asked why Shakib had missed the captains' photoshoot at the Shere Bangla National Stadium on the eve of the final. Then the truth came out. He even had to undergo a Covid-19 test before being allowed to play the match.
If he had done well, it might not have mattered. In the end analysis, it wasn't the best look.