A rollicking half-century from Shahriar Nafees led the Khulna Royal Bengals to a seven-wicket victory over Duronto Rajshahi in their Bangladesh Premier League match at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium yesterday.
It was Khulna's first win in Dhaka and took them to six points.
Chasing 139 for victory, Nafees scored a sedate 71 that took Khulna home by seven wickets and with four balls to spare. The left-handed batsman shared a composed 63-run stand with Travis Birt after Riki Wessels had fallen in the third over of the game, raising fears that another familiar collapse was on the cards.
But both Birt and Nafees played sensibly to take the score to 80 before Birt succumbed caught behind down the leg-side. But Jehan Mubarak also batted securely to associate another 54-run partnership with Nafees that almost took them home.
Nafees was out in the 19th over with Khulna just five short of their target and they got home without any more hiccups.
Earlier, some good bowling from Khulna restricted Rajshahi to a sub-par total. Medium pacer Krishmar Santokie was the wrecker-in-chief as he finished his four overs with figures of 3 for 18. Spinners Noor Hossain and Sanjamul Islam chipped in with two wickets each.
At one stage it looked like Rajshahi might even fall embarrassingly to a total under hundred. But a committed late blitz by Mukhtar Ali saw them cross the three-figure mark comfortably. Ali scored 41 from 30 balls to take Khulna from 64 for 6 to 138 for 9. He hit four fours and two sixes and received good support from Sean Ervine (23). The third highest contribution to the runs column came in the form extras (19).
SCORES IN BRIEF
DURONTO RAJSHAHI: 138 for 9 in 20 overs (Mukhtar 41, Ervine 23; Santokie 3-18,Sanjamul 2-15)
KHULNA ROYAL BENGALS : 140 for 3 in 19.2 overs (Nafees 71,Mubarak 30; Edmondson 2-29).
Result: Khulna won by 7 wickets.
Player-of-the-match: Shahriar Nafees