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Litton, Charles help Comilla Victorians to fourth Bangladesh Premier League title

replay of , Afghanistan vs Sri Lanka, Group B, Asia Cup 2022, Dubai, August 27, 2022
Litton, Charles help Comilla Victorians to fourth Bangladesh Premier League title


Comilla Victorians 176 for 3 (Charles 79*, Litton 55, Rubel 2-39) beat Sylhet Strikers 175 for 7 (Mushfiqur 74*, Shanto 64, Mustafizur 2-31) by seven wickets

Comilla Victorians aced a tricky 176-run chase to claim their fourth BPL title, and second in a row. Victorians were turbo-powered by fifties from Johnson Charles, who smashed 79* from 52 balls, and Litton Das, who hit 55 off 39, as they beat Sylhet Strikers by seven wickets with four balls to spare. It was the icing on the cake after an 11-match winning streak for Victorians, who had lost three matches to start the tournament.

It was the fourth BPL title for Victorians coach Mohammad Salahuddin, who is rapidly acquiring legendary status in Bangladesh. Victorians were woeful in the field, but their superstar batting line-up took them over the line.

Strikers were worthwhile finalists too after they came through the second qualifier by beating Rangpur Riders. They made 175, with Mushfiqur Rahim and Najmul Hossain Shanto hitting attractive fifties.

A manic start

Shanto and Towhid Hridoy ran four off the first ball of the match after an overthrow from Mukidul Islam, who tried to run the non-striker Hridoy out. Two balls later, Shanto struck back-to-back fours before Tanvir Islam’s overthrow off the final delivery of the over gave Strikers five runs. If all this was not enough, Tanvir then removed Hridoy first ball of the second over.

Strikers’ captain Mashrafe Mortaza promoted himself to No. 3 for the third game in a row, with the move now appearing less surprising. But he fell cheaply to Andre Russell, as Strikers couldn’t quite capitalise on an otherwise good start. Victorians further contributed to the mess when Sunil Narine let the ball through his legs at short third in the fourth over to allow four to Shanto.

Shanto, Mushfiqur propel Strikers

Only three of Strikers batters got into double figures. Those included knocks of 74* and 64 from Mushfiqur and Shanto, respectively. In the process, Shanto became the first Bangladesh player to reach 500 runs in a BPL season.

Shanto provided the initial thrust despite the mayhem at the other end, hitting the ball cleanly over the 30-yard circle in the powerplay against both pace and spin. He added 79 for the third wicket with Mushfiqur before being bowled by Moeen Ali. But Mushfiqur soldiered on with an unbeaten 74, hitting Russell for a fine six – his third of the innings – in the final over.

Dropped catches and brain fades

Apart from overthrows and misfields, the Victorians fielders dropped as many as six catches. Mustafizur Rahman dropped two of those, the first a tough one at short fine leg when Shanto was on 29. But his second, that of Ryan Burl when the batter was on 1, was a howler. He misjudged a simple skier so poorly that the ball nearly hit his head.

Imrul Kayes also dropped Shanto on 37, a simple catch at midwicket, which the Victorians captain made a mess of. Moeen and Litton then dropped George Linde in successive balls at long-on and long-off, respectively; but eventually, it was Litton who took the catch to dismiss Linde for 9 in the 18th over. What followed on the final delivery of the innings was another brain fade: Litton caught Mushfiqur and under-armed the ball back towards the pitch, only to suddenly realise that the ball was actually a free hit.

Litton makes up for fielding errors

Opening the batting in the run chase, Litton provided Victorians with the quick start which they needed, particularly when their pinch-hitter Narine fell in the third over. Litton mixed aggression on the leg side with deft touches through gaps on the off side.

Litton’s innings included seven fours and a six, and he got out to a great catch by Shanto, who ran and dived forward from deep backward square leg after Litton had mistimed a pull. That was his third fifty this season, which he finished with 379 runs – the most by a Victorians batter – thus warming up in style ahead of a first IPL stint, having been picked by Kolkata Knight Riders.

Charles turns the screw

Victorians required another 72 from 44 deliveries when Litton departed, a tricky stage of the match where Charles was on 33 off 29 balls. He scored only another six runs from his next ten deliveries, with Victorians’ required rate up to 13 an over for the last four overs. Rubel Hossain started the 17th over, the first ball of which Moeen slammed for six.

A dot ball and a single followed, which brought Charles on strike with victory another 45 runs away. The remaining three balls of the over went for 6, 6, and 4, all deposited with severe power. As a result, the requirement was down to a very manageable 29 needed from the last three overs.

Strikers were still in the game when Victorians managed only eight runs in the 18th over – that left them with 21 more required from 12 balls – as Charles crashed Luke Wood for consecutive sixes to start the over. A four followed three balls later, leaving the last over – from which they had to get only three – a mere formality.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84



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