A tale of Mashrafe, Gayle and Riders’ BPL success
Daily Sun reviewed Rangpur Riders’ path to their maiden BPL triumph, ‘Six-machine’ Chris Gayle’s incredible role and legendary skipper Mashrafe Mortaza’s fifth BPL trophy.
Road to victory
Great champions have all come back from the grips of defeat but this Rangpur side did not have to go through all that toil. They were the favourites from the very beginning of the tournament and kept playing like the best in the competition. In the end, Rangpur captured the coveted 2017 BPL trophy for the first time in emphatic style with a forensic demolition of Dhaka Dynamites by 57-runs in front of the packed Mirpur stadium.
But the way of their maiden BPL glory was not smooth. Rangpur’s story this year reflects a journey which started with flair, then lost the rhythm through halfway and finished with a flourish.
They started with a bang, notching-up a massive six-wicket victory over Rajshahi Kings at the picturesque Sylhet International Cricket Stadium.
But since then they suffered successive defeats. They broke their losing streak but struggled a lot throughout league stage.
importing plenty of superstars in their line-up, Rangpur struggled despite consisting of the most destructive pair on the earth as Chris Gayle-Brendon McCullum failed to fire. Middle order familiarly collapsed, key bowlers like Malinga, Samuel Badree, Rubel were sidelined during most of the matches due to injury.
At that time their captain Mashrafe Mortaza who is usually strike bowler, played two remarkable innings with bat alongside Thisara Perera, Mohammad Mithun, Ravi Bopara and produced useful contributions for Rangpur’s most of the wins in league ties.
Most of their league matches saw a number of heart-stopping climaxes and at that stage few would have given Rangpur Riders a shot at the title, but finally they roared back in sensational style in their last four matches and sealed the crown in style. Largely thanks to their big-match player Chris Gayle who struck two century in Rangpur’s last three matches.
Rangpur, who finished fourth in league stage with six wins, confirmed their final by demolishing Khulna Titans and Comilla Victorians in their two playoff matches and then whipped out defending champions Dhaka Dynamites in the most important match of the tournament, the grand finale.
Gayle justified his ‘World Boss’ tag
He came, he saw, he conquered. The explosive batsman from West Indies Chris Gayle underlined his reputation as cricket’s most destructive player in BPL five by clobbering two centuries in destructive mood amid hitting record books.
It is because of such moments that Gayle is called ‘World Boss’ in Twenty20 cricket. When he hits them, it stays a hit, usually a big one.
There was perhaps no better way for Rangpur to hammer the final nail in Khulna and Dhaka’s coffin than to have their maverick opener Gayle smashed two electrifying centuries and totally destroy the opposition bowling attack which in the eliminator and final, unfortunately for teams, were Khulna and Dhaka. Gayle became the only man on the planet to have scored two hundreds in a BPL edition.
For those who witnessed the relentless from the stand, the visit was definitely worth it as it rained sixes and fours. The Jamaican has earned a reputation as one of the best destructive players as his quality extraordinary hitting batting.
The neutrals in the crowd, the vast majority of those present, cheered one of their BPL heroes to the skies as Gayle struck his 20th T20 century in dominating fashion.
In the eliminator, Khulna were sitting pretty at the innings break on a daunting of 167 runs, but the smiles soon disappeared from the faces of Mahmudullah’s men when the player of the match Gayle took charge and started tearing the bowling apart and eventually guided Rangpur home with 28 balls to spare.
Now 38, Gayle was at his vintage best, remaining the game’s most compelling performer when the mood takes him and he laid waste to Khulna’s fragile bowling attack, clubbing 14 sixes and six fours on his way to 126 not out in 51 balls.
But in the final against Dhaka Dynamites, it was an evening of records and near records.
Fully channeling his ‘world boss’ persona, Gayle produced a stunning, six-laden century, leading his side to post a daunting 206 for one in 20 overs, hitting the BPL’s best innings (69-ball 146), reaching his 20th T20 century and breaking his own sixes records.
Nobody has hit as many sixes in a T20 innings as the 18 that Gayle dispatched in Mirpur in BPL final, breaking his own record of 17 against Warriors in Bengaluru in 2013. All Dhaka’s fielders and crowds just watched the Gayle show yesterday.
There were record breaking 18 sixes from Gayle’s bat in the final. Seven or eight of them cleared the boundary by just a few metres – he has always set great store by energy conservation. The other three or four reached tiers of the Mirpur Stadium that are normally safe from flying cricket balls.
Asked by Espncricinfo if he would class himself as the Don Bradman of T20s, Gayle banged his own publicity drum after another epic display. “I’m the greatest batsman of all time,” he pronounced.
Mashrafe a true icon, a true leader
BPL trophy and Mashrafe Mortaza are synonymous to each other and that’s what makes it thrilling for the viewers.
Bangladesh’s all-time best captain Mashrafe proved he is a million-dollar captain when he lifted his fourth BPL trophy in BPL this year.
Since the inaugural edition of BPL 2012, Mashrafe won all the trophies as captain except fourth edition. But the unfortunate news for Bangladesh is the living legend will never return to Bangladesh T20 side despite a stellar T20 record, after the final match Mashrafe ensured.
Now at 34, Mashrafe continued his magic-killing in BPL this year. In crucial league match against Chittagong Vikings, Rangpur captain Mashrafe’s bowling was solid but unspectacular, taking 1 for 25 off 3 overs, his wicket being that of middle-order Anamul Haque and Mashrafe is best known for his exploits with the ball for Bangladesh.
But Bangladesh’s ODI skipper was the unlikely batting hero against Vikings as Rangpur surpassed a difficult run-chase to seal a dramatic three-wicket win.
Rangpur silenced in front the strong Chittagong crowd when it eclipsed hosts’ target of 7-176 in the final ball of the match after Thisara Perera hit the winning six.
With Rangpur needing 14 off the last over to win, Perera – thrashed two sixes off Taskin Ahmed to ensure the visitors cruised to their fourth BPL win.
But the amazing chase was set up by batsman Mashrafe (42 off 17 balls).
Mashrafe justified his batting promotion at no 3. It was Mashrafe who played a gem of a knock, turning the match on its head with sensational hitting.
He loses many battles, he goes through excruciating pain, he tumbles, he faces humiliation; yet he keeps on with his voyage and ultimately wins the war. But most importantly, he creates the saga that is retold innumerable times to inspire the forthcoming generations. His legacy becomes a source of eternal inspiration.
Mashrafe has been representing Bangladesh for almost two decades and is still considered one of the finest pace bowlers in the land. But his story is one that contains agony, pain, tenacity, doggedness, and sheer will power.