Rajshahi Royals 170 for 4 (Sukkur 52, Nawaz 41*) beat Khulna Tigers 149 for 8 (Shamsur 52, Irfan 2-18) by 21 runs
All-round contributions from Mohammad Nawaz and Andre Russell lifted Rajshahi Royals to the BPL title, as they edged out Khulna Tigers by 21 runs in the final. Nawaz and Russell added 71 runs in the last 5.4 overs of Rajshahi's innings, before bowling defining overs to weaken Khulna's chase.
Rajshahi became the fourth consecutive team to win the BPL final after batting first, and their 170 for 4 was at par with the average first-innings score in a final, which stood at 172 before this game.
Nawaz, who made an unbeaten 41 off just 20 balls, removed Rilee Rossouw for 37 in the 11th over of the chase, a crucial wicket after the tournament's leading run-getter had put on a superb partnership with Shamsur Rahman. Russell took an even more crucial wicket in the context of the contest, in the 18th over.
Russell's knockout blow
Khulna were still in the game after 17 overs with 40 needed off the last 18 balls, with Mushfiqur Rahim and Robbie Frylinck at the crease. Russell came back for his third over, and conceded just three runs off the first four balls. The pressure was on Mushfiqur.
He had no answer to Russell's yorker, however, and was unable to jam his bat down in time. Having made 21 off 15 balls, Mushfiqur fell just four runs short of teammate Rossouw in the tournament run-getters' chart.
Khulna lean on Shamsur
After Khulna had slumped to 11 for 2 in the second over of their chase, Shamsur and Rossouw steadied them with a 74-run third wicket stand in nine overs. Rossouw made 37 off 26 balls to finish just five short of 500 runs in the tournament. Rossouw, when on 18, was dropped at point by Abu Jayed though it wouldn't have counted since replays showed that Shoaib Malik had overstepped. Shamsur contributed 52 off 43 balls, hitting four fours and two sixes.
One of Shamsur's boundaries was a classy inside-out cover drive off Kamrul Islam, but the pace bowler shot back in his next over. Shamsur was caught on the cover boundary, albeit to a poor short ball outside off stump. Then Kamrul revved up his pace against Najibullah Zadran, troubling him with an in-ducker that nearly trapped him lbw, before having him caught at point. Khulna slipped from 101 for 3 to 104 for 5 by the end of the 14th over.
Khulna apply early squeeze
Rajshahi's innings followed a similar pattern. They lost an early wicket before they had their recovery partnership, between Liton Das and Irfan Sukkur, who put on 49 off 6.4 overs. Liton didn't really get going, falling in the tenth over for 25 off 28 balls, but his partner at the other end was having a better day.
Sukkur holds Rajshahi together
A known face in the domestic circuit, Sukkur became the first uncapped Bangladeshi cricketer to score a fifty in the BPL final. He held things together and vindicated his No 3 position when Rajshahi could have used any of their more established names there. He made 52 off 35 balls, with six fours and two sixes.
Shanto misses golden opportunity
Before Russell really got going, he skied Shahidul Islam in the 17th over, a critical moment when Rajshahi hadn't even crossed the seven-per-over mark. As the ball ballooned towards the extra-cover boundary, Najmul Hossain Shanto ran in, got under the ball with a diving effort, but couldn't hold on to the chance. In their remaining 3.4 overs, Rajshahi scored 60 runs.
Nawaz overshadows Russell
Mohammad Amir vs Russell was the most anticipated battle within the final, but it only lasted three balls. Amir hardly made any dent, as Russell smoked him for a big six over midwicket with a trademark flick of his bat.
Nawaz was Rajshahi's unsung hero with his unbeaten 20-ball 41, which included six fours and two sixes. Usually it is Russell who does the bulk of the big hitting in the slog overs, but Nawaz's contribution ensured that a middling 150-ish score became a fairly daunting total.