Gemcon Khulna stalwarts came all guns blazing when it mattered most as they steered the side to the final of the Bangabandhu T20 Cup in first attempt.
Due to the combined effort of Jahurul Islam, Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, Shakib Al Hasan and captain Mahmudullah Riyad, Gemcon Khulna secured a 47-run win over the most consistent side of the tournament Gazi Group Chattogram in the first Qualifier game at Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium on Monday.
Chattogram beat Khulna twice in the group phase and registered seven victories out of eight.
Opener Jahurul Islam struck his career-best 80 to firstly help Gemcon Khulna compile a mammoth 210-7 after which 38-year-old Mashrafe Bin Mortaza led the side in bowling, also with his career-best 5-35 as Chattogram was shot out for 163 in 19.4 overs.
Despite the defeat, Chattogram would have a second chance to give a shot at the final as they take on Beximco Dhaka in the second Qualifier tomorrow (Tuesday). Dhaka earlier on the day edged Fortune Barishal past by nine runs in the Eliminator.
Jahurul struck five fours and four sixes in a knock in which he played just 51 balls.
Around him, other Khulna batsmen came up with aggressive batting show to help the side post a daunting total.
After being sent to bat first, Khulna got off to a rapid start thanks to Jahurul who came hard on the Chattogram bowlers even though his fellow opener Zakir Hasan struggled to make impact.
Zakir was trapped run out for 16 off 22, bringing an end to the 71 runs partnership which came off just 55 balls.
Kayes then joined Jahurul and kept the pace as Khulna grew with strength to strength as the innings progressed.
When Mustafizur Rahman had Kayes caught by Mahmudul Hasan, he already struck 28 off 15, with two fours and as many sixes.
Jahurul meanwhile brought up his eighth T20 fifty and looked set for a century. Mosaddek Hossain ended his beautiful knock but his dismissal paved a way for captain Mahmudullah Riyad to go on berserk.
Mahmudullah brought up his 30 off just 9 deliveries including three sixes over Shoriful Islam and hit two more fours. Sanjit Saha prevented Mahmudullah from doing more carnage.
Shakib Al Hasan, who so far failed to make any impact in the tournament, stood tall in the big game. Shakib struck 28 off 15 with two fours and as many sixes but importantly he gave the side an impetus in the death overs, when someone needs to stick around to help Khulna have a good finish.
Mustafizur Rahman was the most successful bowler for Chattogram with 2-31 while Sanjit Saha and Mosaddek took one wicket apiece.
In pursuit of the big chase, Liton Das started in aggressive way but Mashrafe who tasted the ire of Liton, dismissed Soumya Sarkar for naught to give the side a good start.
Mashrafe then took the prized scalp of Liton, who struck 23 off 24 off 13 with two fours and two sixes.
While Mashrafe reduced the chances of Chattogram-victory, taking out their two aggressive openers early, he gave the crucial breakthrough in his second spell.
As Mahmudul Hasan Joy and captain Mohammad Mithun revived the innings, playing with utmost confidence, Mashrafe came back with fire to dismiss Joy for 31 and thus brought an end to the crucial 73-run partnership.
Khulna then ruined Chattogram’s hope of coming back to the match strongly when Ariful Haque got rid of Mithun, who struck three fours and as many sixes in team’s highest 53 off 35.
Shakib Al Hasan who felt the wrath of Mithun in his first spell, then removed Mosaddek Hossain for 17. From that stage, Chattogram needed a miracle to win the game but that didn’t happen.
Mashrafe came back in his third spell to complete his five-for as he got rid of Shamsur Rahman (18) and Mustafizur Rahman (0) in the space of three deliveries. For Shamsur’s wicket, credit should go to Anamul Haque Bijoy, who came as a replacement of concussed wicket-keeper Zakir Hasan, held onto the catch with excellent dive.
Gemcon Khulna 210-7 in 20 overs (Jahurul Islam 80, Mahmudullah 30, Shakib 28, Kayes 25; Mustafizur 2-31, Mosaddek 1-27, Sanjit 1-50)
Gazi Group Chattogram 163 all out in 19.4 (Mithun 53, Mahmudul Hasan Joy 31, Liton Das 24, Shamsur Rahman 18; Mashrafe Mortaza 5-35, Ariful 2-26, Hasan Mahmud 2-35)
Result: Gemcon Khulna wins by 47 runs.