Khulna, Chattogram vie for Bangabandhu T20 Cup glory

DHAKA —Gemcon Khulna is determined to come all guns blazing despite the absence of their key player Shakib Al Hasan as they take on Gazi Group Chattogram in the final of the Bangabandhu T20 Cup tomorrow (Friday) at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium.

The match starts at 4.30 pm. Country’s new sports channel T Sports will telecast the match live from the stadium.

Shakib flew to the USA after the first Qualifier game in which Khulna beat Chattogram by 47 runs to move to the final straightway, due to be with his ailing father-in-law. However his father-in-law passed away before he reached there.

The ace all-rounder hinted to be back at his best, playing a crucial role in Khulna win over Chattogram after his failure throughout the group phase. That Khulna expected that he would bring his A game when it matters most was previously proved in the first Qualifier game. Therefore Shakib’s absence created a loophole, something which Khulna head coach Mizanur Rahman Babul had no reservation to admit.

“Obviously his absence will affect us as he always plays the role of two players simultaneously. We will miss him in the final but family always comes first,” Babul said.

“Despite his absence, the players are motivated because they are playing the final. We came here to win the trophy and we’ll try to show our best in the most important game.”

But overcoming the Chattogram hurdle will not be an easier one even though they beat them in the first Qualifier.

Chattogram, mostly formed with the T20 experts demonstrated their caliber by winning the seven games in the eight in group phase. They topped the table by far distance as the second placed Khulna won just four matches.

In the double-leg group phase, Chattogram defeated Khulna twice—firstly beating them by nine wickets at quite convincingly after shooting out Mahmudullah Riyad-led side for 86 runs and second time, though they faced a tough battle, still came out the winner with a three-wicket victory.

But Khulna’s big guns delivered in the first Qualifier with Mashrafe ended with his maiden T20 five-for and deprived Chattogram to seal the final straightway. That didn’t matter for Chattogram as they won the second Qualifier, crushing Beximco Dhaka by seven wickets.

Thus the top two teams of the tournament moved to the final, making it high-voltage game.

Even though they lost just two games on the way to their final, Chattogram head coach Mohammad Salahuddin kept Khulna ahead in the crucial game because of their vast experience.

“I think in T20 games, experience always matters. Both of the teams are bolstered with experienced players but Khulna has more experience and so they are ahead of us,” Salahuddin said.

That doesn’t mean Salahuddin will give up the hopes of winning the trophy.

“During the players’ draft, we tried to rope in experienced and T20 experts for every position. I think our middle order is strong and they will deliver when it matters most,” he added.BSS