Andre Fletcher and Upul Tharanga added their third fifty-plus opening stand in three matches to power Sylhet Sixers to their third successive win the BPL.
After toppling defending champions Dhaka Dynamites and former champions Comilla Victorians, Sylhet beat Rajshahi Kings by 33 runs. It was the second successive defeat for Darren Sammy’s men, who had lost to Rangpur Riders in their season opener.
After being sent in, Sylhet posted 205 for 6 on the back of Tharanga’s 50 and Fletcher’s 48. Danushka Gunathilaka and Ross Whiteley provided the spark at the end to swell the total.
Luke Wright and James Franklin fought hard in the chase, but a rapidly rising asking rate was too much to overcome. Abul Hasan and Liam Plunkett came away with three wickets each, keeping Rajshahi to 172. Sabbir Rahman impressed in the field, claiming four catches – a BPL record.
The Tharanga-Fletcher show
Fletcher launched Sylhet’s innings with a flicked six off Kesrick Williams in the second over before he combined with Tharanga to take 18 runs off the next over bowled by Hosain Ali. The West Indies opener hit top gear when he blasted Mehidy Hasan Miraz for two successive sixes – the first of which brought up the fifty stand.
Tharanga secured his first six, in the ninth over, when he lofted Samit Patel over long-off. The 101-run stand, however, ended two overs later when Fletcher was run out for 48. When Tharanga fell in the next over, after reaching his third successive fifty, there might have been a fear of a Chittagong Vikings-like collapse.
The end-overs surge
But unlike Chittagong, Sylhet had middle-order enforcers who were willing to bat deep into the slog overs. Danushka Gunathilaka led the end-overs surge with 42 off 22 balls, including a scooped six off Franklin. In all, Gunathilaka took 23 runs off nine balls from the former New Zealand allrounder.
Gunathilaka holed out with 2.2 overs remaining in the innings, but Ross Whiteley took over and hit three sixes in his unbeaten 12-ball 25.
An unlikely fire starter
Mominul Haque, widely regarded as a Test specialist, kicked off Rajshahi’s chase with a brace of sixes off Nasir Hossain and contributed 24 in a 50-run stand with Wright.
But Liam Plunkett set Rajshahi back with two wickets in the sixth over; Mominul and Rony Talukdar falling in the space of three balls. Rajshahi recovered slightly before Abul Hasan emulated Plunkett in the 10th over. He first had Mushfiqur Rahim slicing a catch to Sabbir at long-on and then had Samit Patel playing on. By then Rajshahi had slumped to 79 for 4.
An unmemorable birthday
Playing in the BPL for the first time since 2013, Wright struck his second fifty in the competition. He and Franklin added 54 runs in just 4.5 overs but the asking rate kept soaring. The scoreboard pressure got the better of Wright when he holed out to deep midwicket for 56 off 39 balls.
Franklin produced some late blows and ended with 35 off 23 balls but his 37th birthday wasn’t memorable as Sylhet wrapped up a 33-run win.
Sylhet Sixers 205 for 6 (Tharanga 50, Fletcher 48, Williams 2-39) beat Rajshahi Kings 172 for 8 (Wright 56, Hasan 3-22, Plunkett 3-29) by 33 runs