Mohammad Amir (6/17) bowled the finest T20 spell of his career to guide the Khulna Tigers to a 27-run victory over Rajshahi Royals in the Qualifier 1 match of Bangladesh Premier League 2019-20. Amir's compatriot Shoaib Malik (80) tried his best to save the day for the Royals, however, he could not help them win the match.
Chasing a target of 159 runs for a place in the final, Rajshahi got off to a disastrous start as they were down to 33/6 in 7.5 overs. Amir took the wickets of Liton Das (2), Afif Hossain (11), Alok Kapali (0) and opposition skipper Andre Russell (0) to ensure that Khulna get the upper hand in the second innings. Robbie Frlylinck (1/29) and Shahidul Islam (1/15) supported the left-arm pacer to perfection.
Malik then played like a lone warrior from one end as he added 74 runs for the seventh wicket with Taijul Islam (12). In the final overs, the duo could not accelerate the innings as the increasing required run-rate forced them to play the big shots. They lost their wickets trying to play aggressively and ultimately, Mehidy Hasan's (2/6) magical over sealed the deal for Khulna.
Earlier in the day, Rajshahi had won the toss and opted to bowl first. Mohammad Irfan (2/13) bowled a terrific spell to ensure that Rajshahi got the rid of Mehidy Hasan (8) and Rilee Rossouw (0) early. However, Nazmul Hossain Shanto (78*) continued his fine form from the final league match as he slammed 7 fours and 4 sixes. He got good support from Shamsur Rahman (32) as the duo guided Khulna to 158/3 in 20 overs.
With this win, Khulna have booked their place in the final whereas Rajshahi Royals will have to win the Qualifier 2 match against Chattogram Challengers to set up a rematch with the Tigers in the finale.
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