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Ariful Haque stuns Barishal; Mahedi Hasan, Nurul Hasan hand Rajshahi narrow win over Dhaka

Needing 22 to win in the final over, Ariful blasted four sixes against Mehidy Hasan Miraz to give Khulna a four-wicket win

Mohammad Isam
Mohammad Isam
Ariful Haque blasted a 21-ball 35 to shore up Khulna, Comilla Victorians v Khulna Titans, BPL 2017-18, Mirpur, December 5, 2017

Ariful Haque plays on the leg side  •  Raton Gomes/BCB

Gemcon Khulna 155 for 6 (Ariful 48*, Jahurul 31, Khan 2-21) beat Fortune Barishal 152 for 9 (Emon 51, Hridoy 27, Shahidul 4-17) by four wickets
Ariful Haque pulled off a Rahul Tewatia to drag Gemcon Khulna out of a huge hole against Fortune Barishal. Needing 22 to win in the final over, Ariful blasted four sixes against Mehidy Hasan Miraz, giving Khulna a four-wicket win with one ball to spare.
It not only saved Khulna from the embarrassment of losing to arguably the weakest team in the tournament but Ariful also reprieved himself for sluggish batting until the 20th over. Ariful was on 24 off 29 balls and poised to be blamed for the loss.
But Miraz bowled his offspin from around the wicket, and instead of attacking the stumps like his namesake Mahedi Hasan who bowled a string of yorkers in the day's first game, he floated two full deliveries, both dispatched down the ground.
After Ariful refused a single on the third ball, he lifted Miraz's short balls over midwicket for two more sixes to sign off a brilliant comeback.
Ariful had earlier come to the crease when Khulna were in trouble, and his sluggish batting hardly got them into a position of strength. Taskin Ahmed had removed both openers Anamul Haque and Imrul Kayes in the first over, but the bigger blows came a few overs later. First, Mahmudullah was sucked into a big shot by Miraz in the fifth over to be caught at long-on. Then in the following over, Shakib Al Hasan, having made only 15, holed out against Khan at deep square leg.
Jahurul Islam and Ariful added 42 runs for the fifth wicket but it hardly gave Khulna any impetus. Jahurul struck 31 off 26 balls but Ariful got stuck at the other end. It was only when young Shamim Hossain came to the crease that Khulna looked like a chasing side.
Shamim struck a six and three fours in his 18-ball 26 but when he was dismissed, Barishal looked in full control. Ariful, however, had other ideas right when it mattered.
Barishal had earlier got off to a disastrous start after being put in to bat by Mahmudullah. Shafiul Islam had Miraz, opening the batting with Tamim Iqbal, caught-and-bowled off the first ball of the match. Barishal recovered slowly but then lost Iqbal on the last ball of the powerplay.
Young Parvez Hossain Emon, however, made a half-century with three fours and four sixes, and although he struggled to put the ball away at times, the left-hander made sure his side didn't veer into a big collapse so soon in the game. He added 32 for the fourth wicket with fellow Under-19 World Cup winner Tohwid Hridoy, who chipped in with 27 off 25 balls.
Later, Mahidul Islam Ankon and Ahmed struck four sixes between them to take Barishal past the 150-mark. Shahidul Islam finished with 4 for 17, his best figures in T20s, while Shafiul and Hasan Mahmud took two each.
Minister Group Rajshahi 169 for 9 (Mahedi 50, Nurul 39, Muktar 3-22) beat Beximco Dhaka 167 for 5 (Mushfiqur 41, Akbar 34, Mahedi 1-22) by two runs
Mahedi Hasan bowled a brilliant final over to help Minister Group Rajshahi clinch a two-run win over Beximco Dhaka in the opening game of the Bangabandhu T20 Cup.
Mahedi bowled five dot balls - most of them yorkers - to a rampant Muktar Ali, who could only get a four through square leg off the fourth delivery. Off the next ball, the square-leg umpire sent a stumping appeal to his TV colleague, but it emerged that Mahedi had overstepped. Mahedi, however, made up for it by firing two more yorkers to give away just one more run, finishing with figures of 1 for 22 from his four overs. Earlier in the game, he had also produced 50 runs off 32 balls when Rajshahi had landed in trouble midway through their innings.
Dhaka needing 30 runs off the last two overs, Mukhtar gave his side a lifeline by smashing three sixes off Farhad Reza. The first two of those went over midwicket while the last one was over long-on, as Dhaka managed 21 runs off the penultimate over. Eventually, it was an apt finish to a topsy-turvy game that could have gone either way.
At the start of the chase, Dhaka had moved quickly, but lost three wickets within the first seven overs. Young Tanzid Hasan was run-out in the second over after hitting 18 off 11 balls. Mahedi then had Yasir Ali lbw in the fifth over, before Mohammad Naim, who also got off to a quick start, was caught one-handed at deep midwicket while trying to clear a long-hop from Arafat Sunny.
Dhaka recovered through a 71-run fourth-wicket stand between Mushfiqur Rahim and Akbar Ali, the Under-19 World Cup-winning captain who chipped in with 34, including a six over long-on and four fours. But his dismissal with Dhaka still requiring 44 off the remaining 26 balls brought Rajshahi back in the game.
Rajshahi had earlier built their total with two scoring bumps. They had started well with captain Najmul Hossain Shanto, before newcomer Anisul Islam Emon placed them in a strong position in the powerplay. Shanto was the first wicket to fall in the fourth over, but Emon struck five fours and a six in an attacking 23-ball 35. But from 65 for 2 in the ninth over, they lost three wickets - Mohammad Ashraful, Emon and Fazle Mahmud - on the same score, reducing them to a position from where survival took more importance.
But Nurul Hasan and Mahedi turned things around quickly after a short lull. The sixth-wicket pair added 89 runs before Nurul, having struck three sixes and two fours in his quick 39, holed out trying to ramp off Muktar. Shortly afterwards, Mahedi too skied to deep square-leg but only after an aggressive 52 off 32 balls with three fours and four sixes.
Dhaka's pace bowlers had a better outing than their spinners, who went for combined figures of 2 for 84 from their eight overs. Muktar took 3 for 22, while Rubel Hossain and left-arm quick Mehedi Hasan were both economical.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84