Unlike the Fortune Barishal, Comilla Victorians stormed their way into the final of the ongoing Bangabandhu Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) the other night and two of the best teams, on paper and on the field, will take on each on Friday evening.
It will be a battle between two master tacticians - Mohammad Salahuddin and Khaled Mahmud - as well. Barishal are yet to lay hands on the BPL trophy while Comilla are two-time champions. But it all comes down to how they perform on the given day in the clash of titans.
Although Comilla are a more accomplished team historically, Barishal have the upper hand against them in the ongoing tournament. In the league phase, Victorians won the first match against Barishal and the latter avenged the defeat in the second face-off. Barishal made the finals by beating Comilla by 10 runs in the first qualifier. But the thumping win in the second qualifier will give Comilla a lot of confidence ahead of the most important game of the tournament.
Fortune Barishal: Strengths and weaknesses
Fortune Barishal defended just 143 successfully on a batting wicket against Comilla Victorians in the first qualifier to make it into the final. The Shakib Al Hasan-led team has turned defending below-par totals a habit. Barishal defended totals of 155 or less five times in the tournament.
Shakib led his team well, bowled well himself and made effective bowling changes. Shakib however is a doubt for the final with illness and he did not show up at the photo session with the trophy ahead of the final on Thursday. This could also be mind games on his part and it would be no surprise if Shakib played in the all-important final.
But one area Barishal will be worrying about is their middle-order. Their middle-order has failed throughout the tournament as the likes of Shanto, Towhid Hridoy, Nurul Hasan and Ziaur Rahman never made substantial contributions with the bat. Although Munim Shahriar and Shakib have been in great touch, it's the lack of runs in the middle-order that can be a cause for concern for Barishal.
Comilla Victorians: Strengths and weaknesses
The overseas recruits of the Victorians have been in sublime form in this year's BPL. Faf du Plessis hit a magnificent hundred a couple of matches ago, Moeen Ali has already played a couple of blistering knocks and Sunil Narine, in the second qualifier, hit the joint second-fastest fifty in the history of T20s - off 13 balls. Interestingly, Sunil Narine's strike rate and economy rate are the highest by any Comilla Victorians player this season.
But the lack of contributions from the local players have been a cause for concern for Imrul Kayes and his team. Imrul himself hasn't been in good touch and barring a fifty, he hasn't really shown his prowess. Litton Das too hasn't been at his best. Nahidul Islam started the tournament well but couldn't sustain the consistency and lost his place. Shohidul Islam has been getting wickets but his economy rate is on the higher side. Mustafizur Rahman and Tanvir Islam have been great but need a lot of support from the other local players to trump Shakib's Barishal.
However, Comilla had a problem of getting off to slow starts and they have finally found a solution by promoting Sunil Narine to open the innings. Courtesy of his blitzkrieg, Comilla scored 84 for two in the powerplay in the second qualifier which was the second-highest score in the first six overs in BPL history. But for this, they pushed Mahmudul Hasan Joy, who is a top-order batter, down the order. So in which position he will bat in the final remains a question.
The final between these two teams will take place at the Sher-E-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Mirpur at 5.30 pm local time on Friday.