Rejaur Rahman Raja took two wickets on BPL debut to seal a comfortable victory
Chattogram Challengers 190 for 7 (Howell 34*, Rabbi 2-35) beat Khulna Tigers 165 for 9 (Yasir 40, Raja 2-20) by 25 runs
How the match played out
The uncapped Raja dealt Khulna an early blow when he struck Andre Fletcher on the neck. He removed Sikandar Raza, Fletcher’s concussion substitute, and Thisara Perera, apart from going for just nine runs in his first 18 deliveries. Left-arm quick Shoriful Islam was on the mark too, taking two wickets although he had Tanzid Hasan dropped at mid-on.
Nasum Ahmed, Mehidy Hasan Miraz and Benny Howell took one wicket each, as Chattogram won the game comfortably.
That comfort came via two important batting periods. Chattogram struck 64 runs in the powerplay, and another 62 runs in the last five overs.
Chattogram’s openers got out trying to be too aggressive. Will Jacks and Kennar Lewis blasted off with 23 off the first over. The fifty was up in 3.3 overs, but both openers were gone by the fourth over with only 17 and 25 next to their names. After Afif Hossain and Sabbir Rahman batted steadily, Miraz and Howell got the run-rate back up.
Miraz struck four boundaries in his 23-ball 30 while Howell struck an unbeaten 34 off 20 balls, with a bit of innovation in his five boundaries, that included an upper-cut six.
Khulna had no such luck as their top order caved in with Fletcher being stretchered off. ESPNcricinfo understands that he is “feeling okay” but was taken to hospital as a precaution. Yasir Ali stood form, adding 43 runs for the fifth wicket with Raza. Yasir made 40 off 26 balls with three sixes and two fours, trying to keep Khulna in the game against the tide of a very high asking rate.
Khulna made an inauspicious start when Sohrawordi Shuvo, in his first BPL over in five years, conceded 23 runs. It also happened to be the most runs in the first over of a BPL innings. The previous highest was Chittagong Vikings’ 22 runs against Rajshahi Kings in the 2018-19 edition. Shuvo slipped a wide four off the first ball before Lewis slog swept him for a six. Jacks struck him down the ground for a four and followed it up with a swept six over long leg for the second six in the first over.
Khulna would also hope that the veteran Mushfiqur Rahim comes good after he has had two low scores to start off the tournament.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84