Gayle smashes 19th T20 ton (126* off 51)
SUMMARY: Rangpur Riders 171-2 (Gayle 126*, Mithun 30*) beat Khulna Titans 167-6 (Ariful 29, Malinga 2-49) by eight wickets.
The wait for a Chris Gayle special in this BPL season is finally over. The West Indian smashed 126 – the highest score in the BPL – to eliminate Khulna Titans and power Rangpur Riders into the second qualifier.
This was the first hundred of the season, Gayle’s fourth in the BPL, and 19th overall in T20 cricket. Khulna, whose young guns have been quite impressive, wilted in face of the six-laden onslaught.
Gayle packed his 51-ball innings with 14 sixes and six fours, helping Rangpur hunt down 168 with 28 balls to spare. His 14 sixes is a new BPL record; Gayle bettered his own record of 12 sixes he had hit for Dhaka Gladiators in 2013.
Too many shots spoil Khulna’s start
Opener Nazmul Hossain Shanto kickstarted the innings with three fours in eight balls before falling to an unnecessary hoick against Sohag Gazi in the fourth over. Afif Hossain drove his first ball over cover for four and slapped a six four balls later, but was bowled by Malinga in the following over.
The trend continued: Mahmudullah struck two sixes and two fours in his 6-ball 20 before holing out to long-on. Khulna were 56-3 at that stage.
Rangpur apply the brakes
The bowlers built on the early wickets and did not concede a single boundary from Mahmudullah’s dismissal in the seventh over to the 11th over. Klinger broke the shackles when he cut Bopara between point and third man in the next over. Two balls later, however, Bopara’s superb yorker castled Klinger for 21 off 26 balls.
Khulna’s late charge
Nicholas Pooran and Ariful Haque then added 40 for the fifth wicket at a run rate of eight to perk up the side. The stand ended when Ariful fell in the 17th over for 29.
Ariful had a life in the 14th over when both Mashrafe and the bowler Bopara let a skier fall between them at mid-off, but he failed to cash in.
Carlos Brathwaite then continued his excellent form, taking 17 runs off Malinga in the 18th over, including a muscular six over extra cover. Malinga, though, flummoxed Pooran with a slower full-toss with the first ball of the last over. He gave away just one boundary of the last over to restrict Khulna to 167-6.
Archer deal early blows
Gayle teed off with a brace of sixes but Jofra Archer removed Gazi and Brendon McCullum in the third over to leave Rangpur at 25-2. From thereon, it was the Gayle show.
Gayle storm hits Mirpur
Gayle was severe on Archer, taking him for 20 runs in the fifth over, including a straight six. Abu Jayed was also hit down the ground in the next over before Mohammad Irfan’s legbreaks were deposited for two sixes in the seventh over – the first of which brought up a fifty off 23 balls.
Gayle did not spare his West Indies team-mate Brathwaite too as Rangpur surged towards the target. He went onto bring up a 45-ball hundred when he worked Mahmudullah to deep midwicket for a single in the 14th over. He finished the chase when he slammed Shanto for back-to-back sixes in the 16th over.
What they said
“I think it is called the Gayle storm. To be honest, he batted outstandingly. We didn’t bowl well up front, because we know about his power and capability.” Khulna captain Mahmudullah (ESPNCricinfo)