Khulna Titans formed a balanced squad ahead of BPL 2017 and were performing well as a team until the Eliminator where West Indies great Chris Gayle played a brutal innings of 126 runs off just 51 balls to knock them out of the money-spinning tournament.
Khulna made some impressive signings during the players’ auction and registered some young players like Nazmul Hossain Shanto, Afif Hossain, Saif Hasan and Abu Jayed Rahi, among others. Their overseas signings were also impressive, in terms of T20 cricket, as they had recruited Carlos Brathwaite and Rilee Rossouw. But their biggest announcement perhaps was the signing of Sri Lankan legend Mahela Jayawaradene as their head coach.
Khulna were certainly a title contender with such a balanced squad and they were well on course for the title before Gayle played that outstanding innings to single-handedly turn the match in Rangpur’s favour.
Paceman Rahi was in good form throughout the tournament and at one stage, was leading the wicket-takers’ tally. He finished the tournament on 18 wickets in 12 innings. Although the economy was slightly high for the right-arm pacer, he provided crucial breakthroughs at the start of the innings more often than not.
Captain Mahmudullah was also consistent as he scored 312 runs in 12 innings, and bagged six wickets. The catching and fielding was good from Khulna players throughout the competition. They worked hard on the field and displayed good skills in the middle as a fielding unit.
Young pacer Jofra Archer was fast and impressive with the leather for Khulna. The Sussex bowler often produced serious pace and bowled around 145 km/hour with good bounce and carry. Archer took 10 wickets in nine innings, and also managed a good economy rate of 6.97.
But all the effort from Khulna was blown away by Gayle’s magnificent innings as the bowlers failed to take his wicket early. The West Indian smashed 14 sixes against them in the Eliminator.
Ariful Haque (Local)
Ariful played some good aggressive cricket during the slog overs for Khulna, which was good to see from the fans’ point of view. The right-hander scored 237 runs in 11 innings at an impressive strike rate of 133.14. Ariful was assigned the finisher’s role and against Rajshahi Kings, he played an outstanding innings of 43 off just 19 balls to seal the match for Khulna.
Carlos Brathwaite (Overseas)
The West Indies big-hitter was in impressive form with the bat throughout the cash-rich competition, scoring some quick runs at the death overs, just exactly what his team demanded from him. Brathwaite scored 250 runs in 12 innings at an average of 31.25 and brilliant strike rate of 185.18. He also took five wickets in 33.4 overs.
Michael Klinger (Overseas)
The veteran Australian opening batsman boasts a long and illustrious career, scoring more than 23,000 runs in his career. The right-hander started the tournament brightly. In their second match in Sylhet, he inspired Khulna to victory. But overall, he scored 154 runs in seven innings. The average was good but the strike rate was 97. 46, which is below-par in terms of T20 cricket.
Mosharraf Hossain (Local)
Mosharraf was retained by Khulna this year as the left-arm spinner possesses a good reputation of bowling economically in the T20 format. But the spinner played only five matches in BPL 5 and remained wicketless after bowling five overs in three innings. Mosharraf also conceded 56 runs in those five overs, which is uncharacteristic for a bowler like him.