Sylhet Strikers became the first team to qualify for playoffs of the ongoing Bangladesh Premier League 2023 after they beat Khulna Tigers by 31 runs in their 10th match at the Sylhet International Cricket Stadium on Monday.
Sylhet’s in-form batsman Towhid Hridoy struck a blazing 74 off 49 balls – his fourth fifty in the meet – while Zakir Hasan made 53 off 38 balls to set up the game for their side as they posted a massive 192-4 in 20 overs after being sent into bat first.
Rubel Hossain then finished with 4-37 while Mohammad Amir and Rejaur Rahman Raja claimed two wickets each as Sylhet restricted Khulna to 161-9 in their 20 overs to complete their eighth win in the tournament.
Khulna’s Shai Hope and Azam Khan made 33 runs each.
It was Khulna’s third consecutive defeat in the ongoing meet and they remained in fifth place with four points from eight matches.
Despite losing another in-form batter Najmul Hossain Shanto (six) early in the innings, Sylhet got their way back in the game after Hridoy and Zakir shared a 114-run stand for the second wicket.
Both the batters smashed Khulna bowlers in all parts of the ground making the local fans stand on their feet at the gallery and they also completed their respective fifties to set Sylhet for a mammoth total.
Ryan Burl and Thisara Perera then smashed two unbeaten late cameos of 21 off 11 balls and 17 off seven balls respectively to take their score close to the 200-run mark. Khulna’s Mark Deyal finished with 2-40.
Rubel gave Sylhet two early breakthroughs in defending the total as he removed Andrew Balbirnie (seven) and Tamim Iqbal (12) in the third over before Hope and Mahmudul Hasan Joy (20) put up a 54-run stand for the third wicket to steady their ship.
However, the dismissal of Mahmudul triggered a batting collapse in Khulna’s innings as they lost wickets at regular intervals and suffered a big defeat against the league leaders.
Sylhet, however, suffered an injury scare in the game as their skipper Mashrafe bin Mortaza had to leave the field after feeling discomfort with his knee during the 12th over of Khulna’s innings. Perera bowled the remaining five balls to complete Mashrafe’s third over.