After being completely outplayed by Dhaka the other night, Comilla will have to regather their composure fast if they want to defeat a rampaging Rangpur who cruised through the elimination stage with relative ease.
Having had such a successful tournament with the bat, It came as quite a surprise to see their batting line-up fluctuate against the Dynamites on the big stage. It was a huge missed opportunity for Comilla, and the consequence of losing a qualifier could see them go out in straight sets which would be disastrous for a team who finished on top of the BPL points table. Victorians skipper Tamim Iqbal made his return to the side and was the only batsman who put up a fight, scoring 31 off 28 deliveries before being dismissed. All the batsman that have made significant contributions to the side so far now find themselves under the gun to perform against the Riders after quiet outings in the first qualifier. That small contingent of players includes Shoaib Malik, Marlon Samuels and Imrul Kayes who have all been standouts at some stage in this years franchise. After coming off a sensational knock against Sylhet, wicketkeeper Liton Das couldn’t back that performance up which was just one of the Victorians many things that went against them that day. It’s a mystery how Jos Buttler is holding his spot in the Comilla side, he’s had an average tournament with a couple good knocks earlier in the tournament, but apart from that he’s made very-little to no impact. Buttler has scored just 28 runs in his last five outings in the BPL and should be considered being dropped, West Indies Darren Bravo would be the likely candidate to snaffle up his spot.
The Victorians bowling attack have an almighty task ahead of them if they are to advance their side into the final against the Dhaka Dynamites who comprehensively defeated them just recently. Rangpur’s Chris Gayle went on a slogging-rampage and reached triple-figures for the 19th time in his T20 career, giving the Titans a dose of the infamous “Gayle storm”. Comilla have a much more potent attack compared to Khulna’s though, but that doesn’t mean it’s beyond Gayle’s capability to take them apart as well, it just means they have a slightly better chance of picking up his wicket earlier. Pakistani seamer Hasan Ali will ultimately be Comilla’s key to success, he’s bowled so well in the tournament and given the Victorians the upper-hand on so many occasions. Even when they went down by 95 runs in the last contest, Ali still picked up an impressive 3/16 off his four overs. This is where the likes of Mohammad Saifuddin and Mahedi Hasan (who have both had brilliant tournaments as well) need to stand tall will Ali and produce some of the best bowling of their careers. It was almost a given that Dwayne Bravo would return for the playoffs, and despite going for plenty of runs, the West Indian all-rounder still managed to pick up a couple wickets.
With a batting-structure completely-different to Comilla’s, the Rangpur Riders heavy-reliance on their two opening batsman has had it’s ups and downs in the tournament, yet they still find themselves in contention to win this years BPL title. Having just about split the ball into two with his brutal-hitting the other night against the Titans, Chris Gayle’s 51-ball 126 was a monstrous innings that has only added to the excitement for this second qualifier. The Shere Bangla National Stadium battered down the hatches as Gayle went ballistic via the aerial route, dispatching a colossal-14 sixes in his onslaught. Having already shown his potential in the tournament, his opening partner hasn’t been able to find that level of dominance just yet. New Zealand’s Brendon McCullum has had a pretty lean-campaign in the runs department, his highest score in the tournament is 43 and he’s really been struggling of late with the bat, so much so that he’s dropped down to No. 3. That probably didn’t do him any good, because he’s only scored a single run in the past two matches he’s featured at first-drop which has, incredibly, put him under pressure to retain his spot in the side. Bangladesh wicketkeeper Mohammad Mithun has been solid throughout the tournament with the bat, and Ravi Bopara brings an element of class to the middle-lower order. Skipper Mashrafe Mortaza has also shown what he can do with the bat, but I have a feeling it will all come down to Gayle’s output in the match.
If Rangpur don’t produce something special with the bat, they’re as vulnerable as any other team in the competition. One of the key factors to that is they don’t have a middle order who can consistently score big runs when required, it’s usually up to Gayle or McCullum with some help from Mithun and Bopara at times, but if those two top order weapons get dismissed early, Rangpur are in a world of trouble. The bowling attack is also a bit of a weakness, headlined by the controversial Lasith Malinga who was once Sri Lanka’s limited overs specialist, he’s only seen as half the player he once was. Malinga still picked up two wickets in that elimination final against the Titans, but he was largely-expensive in doing so. Riders skipper Mashrafe Mortaza has probably been the pick of the bowlers for them this year, his consistency has been just what the team needed with constant wicket taking and tight spells with the new ball. Nazmul Islam and Rubel Hossain have also featured in the side regularly, but haven’t contributed as much as they would have liked. You’d say that Comilla have the better all-round side that can bat & bowl at the same standards, but Rangpur have two potential match winners with the bat which makes this second qualifier an interesting one.
Top 5 fantasy picks | Comilla Victorians | BPL | 2nd qualifier | Dhaka
- Tamim Iqbal
- Hasan Ali
- Marlon Samuels
- Shoaib Malik
- Dwayne Bravo
Wildcard pick – Mahedi Hasan
Top 5 fantasy picks | Rangpur Riders | BPL | 2nd qualifier | Dhaka
- Chris Gayle
- Mohammad Mithun
- Mashrafe Mortaza
- Ravi Bopara
- Lasith Malinga
Wildcard pick – Sohag Gazi
Comilla Victorians (possible) – 1. Tamim Iqbal (c) 2. Liton Das (wk) 3. Imrul Kayes 4. Jos Buttler/Darren Bravo 5. Marlon Samuels 6. Shoaib Malik 7. Dwayne Bravo 8. Mohammad Saifuddin 9. Hasan Ali 10. Mahedi Hasan 11. Al-Amin Hossain.
Rangpur Riders (possible) – 1. Chris Gayle 2. Brendon McCullum 3. Mohammad Mithun (wk) 4. Ravi Bopara 5. Nahidul Islam 6. Johnson Charles/Thisara Perera 7. Mashrafe Mortaza (c) 8. Nazmul Islam 9. Lasith Malinga 10. Sohag Gazi 11. Rubel Hossain.