DHAKA, Feb 4, 2023 (BSS) - Rangpur seemed to have found their killer instinct finally as they sealed their fifth straight victory to raise the prospect of finishing on top two at the group stage of Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) after securing an emphatic eight-wicket win over table topper Sylhet Strikers today at Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium.
Rony Talukdar was instrument in the comprehensive victory, playing a marauding 35 ball-66 that helped Rangpur toil little in overhauling Sylhet's 170-2.
Rony's decisive knock ruined the valiant effort of Towhid Hridoy and Mushfiqur Rahim who were key in steering the side to a challenging total after a slow start that left them 59-2 in 10.4 overs.
Hridoy struck his career-best 57 ball-85 not out, laced with 13 fours and two sixes while Mushfiqur was unbeaten after hitting 55 off 35 with five fours and three sixes. The duo combined for a 111-run off just 56 balls for the undefeated third wicket stand but Rony's knock punched a killer blow to their effort as Rangpur handed Sylhet their third defeat, racing to the victory with 176-2 with 12 balls to spare.
After this victory, Rangpur collected 14 points from 10 points, same as Fortune Barishal and Comilla Victorians but still stayed at fourth position, based on net run rate. Sylhet retained the top position with 16 points but played one match more than these three teams. However Rangpur's victory meant, the race to occupy the top two slots became wide open now.
Rangput made the victory a cake-walk for them thanks to Rony who gave the side a blazing start, tearing apart the bowlers of Sylhet who was without their regular captain Mashrafe Bin Mortaza.
Rony got an ample support from his fellow opener Naim Sheikh as the duo stitched a 100-run partnership from just 59 deliveries.
Pakistan fast bowler Mohammad Irfan got the better of Rony after he smote eight fours and three sixes for his 66 off 35 to break the partnership.
Another fast bowler Rejaur Rahman Raja dismissed Naim with an expressed delivery that swung a bit as he scored 45 off 32, sending the ball across the rope for six times.
But the platform was so strong for Rangpur, thanks to Rony that Shoaib Malik and captain Nurul Hasan Sohan didn't have to feel any pressure. Malik and Sohan drove the side to the victory, sharing a 50-run partnership for the unbeaten third wicket stand.
Malik was not out on 39 off 24, striking four fours and one six that helped the side sign off the game in style while Sohan hit just one boundary for his run-a-ball-17.
Sylhet made a slow start after being asked to bat first and the situation further worsened when fast bowler Hasan Mahmud rattled the stump of Najmul Hossain Shanto for 15. Mahedi Hasan then took out Zakir Hasan for 7 as Sylhet looked complete disarray.
Hridoy and Mushfiqur though bailed the side out of danger, it was not enough on day when Rony was on marauding mood.