Vol. 5 Num 523 Wed. November 16, 2005  

It's Beximco v Epyllion

Beximco and Epyllion set up the November 17 final clash in the GrameenPhone Corporate Cricket League when they won their respective semifinals in dramatic fashion at two different city venues yesterday.

Epyllion pulled off a thrilling one-wicket win against Bangladesh captain Habibul Bashar-led Acme Laboratories at the Dhanmondi Cricket Stadium while a star-studded Beximco defeated Gazi Tanks by four wickets thanks to a match-winning 59 by a vintage Akram Khan.

Both the semifinals produced low scores but excitement were aplenty although there were little or no fireworks from any star names. The four semifinalists, who were involved in frantic activities to make the best use of their one foreign player quota, also saw their overseas players contributing little in the crunch games.

Only Pakistani Yasir Arafat with a 40 played a part in Epyllion's one-wicket triumph over Acme.

The right-arm paceman cum lower order batsman made a memorable Dhaka debut first by hitting a 35-ball 40 and then taking two wickets for 19 runs. He was later adjudged man-of-the-match.

On the other hand, former Bangladesh captain Akram Khan once again showed his big match temperament in the twilight of his career with a fine half-century that took Beximco a step away from glory.

Acme virtually lost the plot even at the halfway mark when they put up a modest 185 on the board despite a typically stubborn 58 off 115 balls from national opener Javed Omar and a clumsy 31 by Pakistani Tareq Mehmud.

But Bashar's Acme sniffed a spectacular turn-around when Epyllion lost all but one wicket with still needing five more runs for victory. The apparel giants however survived those nail-biting moments when their number eleven Shahadat Hossain pulled left-arm spinner Mohammad Rafique just over the close-in field and sneaked the winning single in the 44th over.

But Epyllion's road to victory was fashioned by a young batsman. Opener Shamsur Rahman, a member of the under-19 team that toured England earlier this year, hit a fluent 62 off 74 balls that contained four boundaries and three sixes. Pakistani Arafat then took Epyllion close to victory before being the last batsman out in the 43rd over.

Bangladesh coach Dav Whatmore watched the game along with other selectors. But the Australian was critical about the quality of the foreign recruits. "Is he playing cricket? What's the point of fielding a foreign player like him at the cost of a local cricketer?" remarked Whatmore after watching Tariq Mehmud in action.

Out-of-favour paceman Tareq Aziz Khan claimed the first three wickets and finished with 3-33 in 8 overs while his new ball partner Shahadat took two for 39 and spinner Sabbir Khan two for 19.

Pacer Alamgir Kabir was the most successful Acme bowler with 4-25 while ace left-arm spinner Rafique and Hasibul Hossain took two wickets each.

Veteran Akram Khan led star-studded Beximco to recover from an early damage to score a four-wicket victory against Gazi Tanks.

Chasing Gazi's 160, Beximco lost Mehrab Hossain (3), Al Shahriar (1), Kenyan Steve Tikolo (8) and Mohammad Ashraful (1) with only 34 runs on the board. But the big man joined opener Rajin Saleh to repair the innings as they produced 72 runs for the fifth wicket.

Akram hit 59 off 81 balls that produced nine fours while Rajin added a 99-ball 44 with five fours and a six.

Wicketkeeper Mohammad Shahin was the other notable scorer with 36 as Beximco reached the target of 163 for the loss of 6 wickets in 44.2 overs.

Earlier Gazi Tank saw a batting collapse after opting to bat. Captain Khaled Mahmud at least saved more humiliation by scoring team highest 43 off 56 balls when his side was struggling on 86-6.

Nazmul Hossain, Mahbubul Alam, Abdur Razzak Raj and Steve Tikolo captured two wickets each for Beximco.

Epyllion opener Shamsur Rahman, who hit a stroky 62, follows through on a sweep during their Corporate Cricket League semifinal against Acme at the Dhanmondi Cricket Stadium on Tuesday.. PHOTO: STAR