Sports desk: The fifth edition of the Bangladesh Premier League got underway with a massive upset as the defending champions and red-hot favourite Dhaka Dynamites conceded a nine-wicket defeat to Sylhet Sixers which got the passionate home crowd behind them at the Sylhet International Cricket Stadium yesterday.
Sylhet bowlers proved their captain Nasir Hossain’s decision to bowl first preciously right by holding star-studded Dhaka line up to moderate 136 for seven and thereafter their openers Upul Tharanga and Andre Fletcher made it a one-way traffic, sharing 125 runs in the opening stand.
West Indian recruit Fletcher was dismissed on 63, but Sri Lankan opener Tharanga remained unbeaten on 69 to sail the side home with 20 balls to spare. Both Tharanga and Fletcher came up with six-hitting spree, to justify the Sylhet Division’s name Sixers. In total they smacked five sixes between them in the opening partnership lasted for 15.3 overs.
Tharanga smashed two sixes and sent the ball across the rope for five times in his 48 ball-69 not out while Fletcher hit three sixes and five boundaries in a knock of 63 off 51. Sabbir Rahman was not out on 2.
While Tharanga and Fletcher made scoring in the pitch look easier, Dhaka batsmen stumbled from the very beginning, digging their own graveyards. Mehedi Maruf who announced his arrival with a stroke-filled 75 in Dhaka’s eight-wicket victory in the opening game of the previous season, got dismissed in the first over for naught but Dhaka still was on track with Kumar Sangakkara and dangerous Evin Lewis seemed to have flourished as the time progressed.
With the combination of sensible and whirlwind batting, they looked to rally Dhaka towards a big score before wily Nasir Hossain took Lewis out in the eighth over, bringing an end to the 54-run partnership. Lewis hit three fours and one six in his 26 off 24.
Nasir’s ended his four overs spell at a stretch, giving away just 21 runs and claiming two wickets, a spell that stemmed the run flow and made a suffocated environment. Dhaka never got away with it as England lanky fast bowler Liam Plunkett kept up the momentum Nasir had created.
Plunkett’s first victim was Sangakkara who scored the team’s highest 32 off 28 with three fours and one six. The situation got worsened when Mosaddek Hossain Saikat was run out on 6, in his first competitive match since June, leaving the team in tittering 76 for four in 12th overs. But Dhaka still had the hopes given the long tail and being bolstered by some quality all-rounders.
However neither captain Shakib Al Hasan nor Keiron Pollard resisted the rot on a day when Sylhet bowlers were absolutely accurate. With the dismissal of Shakib (23) and Pollard (11) in consecutive overs, Dhaka’s hope to make an early impact was dented. South African Cameron Delport was not out on 20 off 13 to take Dhaka closer to 140 but it was not enough to defend on a pitch that Tharanga and Fletcher showed held no demons. Abul Hasan Raju also took two wickets along with L Plunkett and Nasir.