This marked Rajshahi’s fifth victory in the Bangabandhu Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) T20 2019 and Cumilla’s fourth straight defeat.
Same match, similar result.
In the previous match between the two sides, Rajshahi Royals cruised to a win over Cumilla Warriors. The same happened in the second tie though Soumya Sarkar's valiant effort of an unbeaten 88 had shown Cumilla some hope, only for their other batsmen to diminish that.
This marked Rajshahi's fifth victory in the Bangabandhu Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) T20 2019 and Cumilla's fourth straight defeat.
Winning the toss, Cumilla's newly appointed captain Dawid Malan invited counterpart Andre Russell to have a bat. And bat they did, as superb batting performances from Shoaib Malik, Andre Russell and Afif Hossain took them to 190-4.
Chasing 191, Cumilla were off to a slow start as neither of Robiul Islam Robi and Stiaan Van Zyl could really get out of their blocks. Their slowish stand ended in the fifth over when Robi's cut shot was caught at the third attempt by Shoaib Malik off Farhad Reza to send Robi back on 12 off 15.
Last match's centurion and Cumilla skipper Dawid Malan came to bat ahead of Soumya Sarkar but failed to reciprocate his previous heroics as he went back for only 3.
Soumya came in at no.4 and started to show his prowess, but runs were scarce at the end which meant that the asking rate was creeping up.
In the 10th over, Farhad Reza dropped Van Zyl off Malik when the South African tried to clear the straight boundary. The ball was in the air for a long time, but Reza failed to grasp the opportunity. Malik though struck back in the very next delivery as he went through Van Zyl's defences to clatter his stumps to send the batsman back for 21.
Soumya also stuttered as the overs kept flowing and the asking rate climbing up and Sabbir Rahman being slow at the other end was of no help either.
Soumya picked up his second fifty in BPL and his first after four years off 36 balls, but it all looked in vain as the target was well beyond Cumilla's reach.
Sabbir Rahman returned scoring 25 off 23 deliveries when he was caught by Andre Russell off Mohammad Irfan in the 18th over before a late blast from David Wiese and Soumya Sarkar which proved to be too little too late. They picked up 59 runs in the last four overs, but that could not compensate their slow start, leading them to finish 15 runs short.
They finally ended on 175-4 with Soumya Sarkar being unbeaten on his T20 career-best 88.
Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Irfan, Farhad Reza and Andre Russell picked up a wicket each for the Rajshahi Royals.
Earlier, Rajshahi were off to a flying start as Liton Das and Afif Hossain accumulated 56 in the powerplay with a presentation of exquisite shots. But their partnership broke right after the powerplay as Liton attempted a slog-sweep off Sunzamul Islam, only to find the fielder at mid-wicket and return for 24.
Afif Hossain though continued on his merry way and kept on playing his shots. But it proved to be one shot too many as he managed to drag a Soumya Sarkar delivery on to his stumps to return for 43 off 30 deliveries.
Ravi Bopara was the next to go in the 13th over as he dragged a wide Mujeeb-ur-Rahman delivery on to his stumps, reducing Rajshahi to 106-3.
But what started next was nothing less of havoc as Shoaib Malik and Andre Russell displayed their calibre once again. At one end, it was Malik's prowess and on the other, it was the power from Russell. Malik picked up his fifty off 35 deliveries, whereas Russell was unbeaten on 37. Malik was run out in the last ball of the innings after he had scored a scintillating 61.
These two put up an incredible 84-run stand off just 42 deliveries to take Rajshahi to 190-4, a commendable score on a Mirpur track.
Sunzamul, Mujeeb and Soumya picked up one wicket each for Cumilla whereas Al-Amin Hossain remained wicketless with giving away 49 runs.
Shoaib Malik was adjudged man of the match for his 61 runs and a wicket.