Afghanistan hard-hitting batsman Mohammad Shahzad struck a blistering unbeaten half-century as Rangpur Riders started their campaign in the fourth edition of the Bangladesh Premier League Twenty20 with a comprehensive nine-wicket win over Chittagong Vikings in Mirpur on Wednesday.
The wicketkeeper-batsman looked in fine touch right from the word go as he, along with opening batsman Soumya Sarkar, got off to a flying start, adding 77 runs for the first wicket.
Soumya departed after a soft dismissal off left-arm seamer Tymal Mills, scoring 23 off 25 balls. But player of the match Shahzad continued to smash the bowlers and reached his fifty in 41 balls.
Mohammad Mithun remained not out on 12 while Shahzad was unbeaten on 80 off just 52 balls, featuring 11 fours and three sixes, as Rangpur reached their target with five overs and nine wickets to spare.
And according to the 28-year old, he tried to occupy the crease initially before going on to launch at the opponent's bowlers.
“Initially, I tried to spend some time at the crease as the ball was not coming on to the bat. Once I got settled, it was not a tough ask for me to go hard at the bowlers. I am very happy with my performance,” said Shahzad after the game.
Earlier, a rather poor batting display saw Chittagong keep losing wickets at regular intervals. The port city outfit were eventually bundled out for 124 in 19.4 overs after being asked to bat by Rangpur skipper Naeem Islam.
English pacer Richard Gleeson and off-spinner Sohag Gazi turned out to be the pick of the bowlers for Rangpur with the latter removing both the openers Tamim Iqbal (11) and West Indian Dwayne Smith (10). From there, Chittagong never looked like scripting a comeback.
Pakistan all-rounder Shoaib Malik and Anamul Haque added 48 runs for the third wicket. But the latter was unlucky as he was run out at the non-striking end for 25 while Malik’s 30 was the highest score for Chittagong.
Player of the match in the previous game, Afghan Mohammad Nabi fell cheaply for five off pacer Rubel Hossain while Pakistan superstar Shahid Afridi polished things off for Rangpur by dismissing Zakir Hasan.
Following the game, Tamim was of the opinion that the flurry of wickets hampered them from setting up a challenging total, which in turn led to the crushing defeat.
"I think we lost wickets frequently. When Anamul Haque and Shoaib Malik were batting, I thought we could score around 160 which I think would have been a good total. But in the end I think our batting let us down,” said Tamim.
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