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Khulna Titans, having to win their last league game to qualify for the playoffs, did so emphatically courtesy Mahmudullah’s half-century here on Sunday.
They finished the group stages in second position to ensure the first qualifier against the same opponents on December 6.The eliminator will be played between Chittagong Vikings and Rajshahi Kings.
Khulna, having never gone past 157 in the tournament, had to make their highest team total. And against a weakened Dhaka side that rested Dwayne Bravo and Andre Russell, they breezed to the target with 12 balls to spare.
It didn’t seem a cakewalk when they lost Andre Fletcher early. Mohammad Hasanuzzaman struck three sixes and as many fours in his 18-ball 40 to get them ahead of the asking rate.
Mahmudullah took over after Hasanuzzaman’s dismissal; he hit five fours and two sixes in his 28-ball 50.
Mahmudullah fell with Khulna needing eight, but with no pressure, they cantered home to dash the hopes of Rangpur Riders, who lost to Comilla Victorians earlier in the evening.
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When Dhaka batted first, Kumar Sangakkara, reprieved on 2, brought up his second half-century of the tournament.
The rest of the Dhaka batting line-up threw away starts. Mehedi Maruf, Nasir Hossain, Shakib Al Hasan, Seekkuge Prasanna and Ravi Bopara failed to go past 20. Junaid Khan picked up three wickets.
Earlier, Rangpur Riders lost to Comilla Victorians by eight runs in Mirpur.
Rangpur fell eight short of a 171-target. Ziaur Rahman waged a fight-back to make an unbeaten 21-ball 38, but it wasn’t enough. Mohammad Shahzad did the bulk of the scoring initially — he made 45 of Rangpur’s 57 runs. But the loss of four wickets in the process hampered their chase.
When Rashid Khan, the Afghanistan legspinner, had his hero Shahid Afridi stumped off a googly for a 19-ball 38, Rangpur were all but out of the contest.
Rashid was the best bowler on the night, taking 3 for 13 off his four overs.
Comilla were driven by an 88-run stand in just 10.2 overs between Imrul Kayes and Khalid Latif. Imrul brought up his first fifty this season; he made 52 off just 35 balls with seven fours and two sixes, while Latif struck 43, before the middle order stumbled to ensure they finished with far less than they should have got.
For Rangpur, Arafat Sunny and Rubel Hossain took two wickets apiece while Afridi had one.