Comilla through to playoffs on ‘horrible’ wicket
Comilla Victorians set their place in the Bangladesh Premier League playoffs in stone with a four-wicket win over Rangpur Riders at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur today, but it was not before they made heavy weather of a paltry chase of 98.

Comilla have now won eight of their 10 games, sitting comfortably on top of the table with a three-point lead over Khulna Titans. The picture is not as pretty for Rangpur however, at fourth place with five wins from 10 games and vulnerable to a surge from Rajshahi Kings. 

After losing their top five with just 73 on the board in 14.5 overs, Marlon Samuels took the Tamim Iqbal-led side home with just three balls to spare. The chase had begun in fine fashion for Comilla with Tamim hitting a six in the first over but soon Rangpur skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, off-spinner Shohag Gazi and left-arm spinner Nazmul Islam combined to get rid of Liton Das (3 off 7), Tamim (22 off 22), Jos Buttler (5 off 9) and Imrul Kayes (14 off 26). Form batsman Shoaib Malik was next to go for a crucial 20, bowled by Nazmul, and it seemed like Rangpur would pull off the upset of the tournament. 

Samuels and Mohammad Saifuddin, who was the last wicket to fall with nine still to get, soothed the Victorians’ worries. The pressure was further alleviated by a first-ball six from Hasan Ali off Mashrafe in the 19th over, which left two to get off the last over, and Samuels sealed the win with a boundary. 

Earlier, Mahedi Hasan toof four for 22 and Mohammad Saifuddin three for 22 off three overs as Rangpur were bundled out for 97 in 17.1 overs. Brendon McCullum top-scored for Rangpur with 24 off 31 balls. Afghanistan U-19 off-spinner, the 16-year-old Mujeeb Ur Rahman, made his BPL debut and bowled a economical spell, conceding 17 runs from his four overs without taking a wicket. 

Both captains slammed the poor wicket after the match.

“It was difficult to bat, nobody will enjoy playing on this wicket,” said Mashrafe at the presentation ceremony. “120-130 would have been a different game. Hats off to the fielders and bowlers -- that was a positive from this match.”

“It is a horrible, horrible, horrible wicket,” said Tamim. “We had 10 days off but the curator could not prepare a good wicket. The crowd does not come to see a 90-95 wicket. The young Mujeeb did well and we are very proud of the win.