The balance of the match swung from side to side in the BPL final at Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium yesterday and, in the end, Comilla Victorians clinched victory by just one run.
Shakib Al Hasan's Fortune Barishal had done well to hold Comilla to 151 for nine after Sunil Narine had given them a terrific start in the Powerplay. However, youngster Shykat Ali's smashing innings for Barishal means both teams found similar progression in terms of building the innings, only Comilla's bowlers did just enough to seize victory in the end.
Barishal answered Narine's knock through Shykat, who got on top of Comilla's attack during a 34-ball 58 that featured magnificent strokeplay. Together with Chris Gayle, the duo notched a 75-run second wicket stand.
The equation seemed easy but Tanvir Islam and Narine then made things happen, with the latter sending back Gayle after a patient 31-ball 33. Shakib had been the saviour in a Barishal batting order that lacked depth, but once Tanvir sent him back, the game got interesting.
Narine with his experience, Mustafizur Rahman with his guile and skill in the death overs and young-but-effective Shohidul Islam bowled the final three overs, defending just 18 runs. Barishal's lower middle- order did not have the answers.
"Very good game of cricket. Both teams made mistakes, but in the end Comilla held their nerve. Credit to them," Barishal skipper Shakib said.
"Shykat Ali played a great innings. It was a good game for him but in the end, we couldn't get over the line. We came back really well after Sunil's innings. Credit goes to our bowlers for coming back from that situation," Shakib said, before crediting Narine for the 18th over of the innings when he scalped Dwayne Bravo and gave away just two runs.
Comilla had bet on Narine at the top again and he did not disappoint, hitting a 23-ball 57. But Comilla's innings fell away thanks to Barishal bowlers being able to redeem themselves. Moeen Ali, another of Comilla's overseas star, played a crucial 32-ball 38 knock to see his side reach a middling total.
"It was an incredible match. I never expected to win," Comilla skipper Imrul Kayes said at the post-match presentation yesterday after the franchise clinched their third BPL trophy. "In this type of final, you need to be brave and cool. If you are, you will be successful. Sunil and Faf helped a lot in the field, it was total teamwork. Bowlers did really well, especially Sunil and Tanvir Islam," Imrul reminded.
Shakib was left a bit disappointed. "It was a good tournament for me personally but I would have loved to have lifted the trophy more than being the Man of the Series."