A marauding Andre Fletcher century trumped a scintillating century of Faf du plessis as Khulna Tigers sealed a 9-wicket victory against Comilla Victorians and in doing so confirmed the playoff of the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) today at Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium.
Khulna's victory meant Minister Group Dhaka was eliminated from the playoff race. They will now take on Chattogram Challengers in the Eliminator game on Monday. Both the teams have 10 points after 10 matches but Chattogram finished third by virtue of net run rate. Fortune Barishal, the group leader with 15 points, will take on second placed Comilla Victorians, who have 13 points in the first Qualifier game on the same day.
Faf du Plessis, who led the side in absence of Imrul Kayes, struck a 54 ball-101, hitting a dozen of boundaries and three sixes to help Comilla post a gigantic 182-5 but Khulna, desperate to confirm the playoff, made the chase a cakewalk thanks to a terrific century of Andre Fletcher, who remained not out on 101 off 62, clobbering six fours and as many sixes.
With Fletcher and Mahedi Hasan going on berserk, Khulna sensed an all-wicket victory but Mooen Ali prevented Comilla from the ultimate shamble, dismissing the latter when the score was level.
Mahedi played his part well, having hammered 74 off 49. He smote six fours and four sixes in his innings. Soumya Sarkar then joined Fletcher and hit the winning single as Khulna confirmed the victory with six balls to spare.
Comilla earlier confirmed the playoff so it was an inconsequential match for them but for Khulna it was a 'do or die' game. And they came up all guns blazing right from the start, making the Comilla bowlers disarray.
Fletcher led the charge, taking the bowlers in disdain while Mahedi played a perfect foil to him. With the duo, going strong, Comilla interim captain du Plessis looked out of idea of how to stop them.
But du Plessis kept Comilla in a place, from where they only could hope for a victory. A victory indeed was needed for them for a mental boost up ahead of taking on Barishal in the first Qualifier.
Electing to bat first, Comilla lost Parvez Hossain Emon and Mominul Haque cheaply before du Plessis came up with a counterattack. He got ably support from Mahmudul Hasan Joy and they combined for a 49-run for the third wicket to lay a solid platform.
Joy was dismissed after hitting 31 off 27 but du Plesiss remained unscathed and hit the bowlers all corner of the park. He was dismissed at the penultimate over but Mahidul Islam Ankan gave the finishing touch with an 11 ball-20 not out that included two sixes.
But in the end it was not enough as Fletcher was in a beast mood that night.