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Afridi steals Smith-Warner showdown

Pakistani all-rounder Shahid Afridi’s unbeaten 39 off 25 balls lifted Comilla Victorians to four-wicket win over Sylhet Sixers in their opening match of sixth Bangladesh Premier League in Mirpur on Sunday.

In a low-scoring encounter, Comilla had to bat till the penultimate ball of the match to reach 130-6 after they restricted Sylhet for 127-8 in their stipulated overs.

Afridi, who ornamented his innings with five fours and two sixes, swept Alok Kapali between short fine leg and square leg for a boundary to complete the nervy win.

Despite Tamim Iqbal’s dogged innings of 35 from 34 balls, Comilla were in trouble, needing 27 runs in last three overs.

Comilla’s foreign recruits – Evin Lewis (five), Steve Smith (16) and Shoaib Malik (13) all failed to make their mark in their first match while Imrul Kayes (0) and Anamul Haque (five) were unable to make any significant contribution.

Afridi smashed Taskin Ahmed a four and a six in the 18th over and took 15 runs to take the win in their favour before finishing the game off.

Sandeep Lamichhane and Al-Amin Hossain claimed two wickets each for Sylhet.

Sent into bat first, Sylhet had Wes Indies batsman Nicolas Pooran to thank to give them a competitive score.

Pooran made 41 off 26 balls and shared 55-run stand with Alok Kapali ( 19) to lift the side from 55-5 after a top-order failure.

Sylhet lost opener Liton Das (one) only in the second over before a big mix-up saw Australia’s David Warner getting run out after making 14 off 13 balls in his BPL debut match.

The reply showed that Warner reached at the crease earlier than his fellow batsman Towhid Hridoy but an error of judgment by third umpire Sharfuddoula forced Warner back to the pavilion.

Afif Hossain (19), Hridoy (eight) and Sabbir Rahman (seven) fell in a quick succession to leave Sylhet tottering before Pooran and Kapali stemmed the rot.

Mahedi Hasan, Mohammad Shahid and Mohammad Saifuddin took two wickets each for Comilla.