DHAKA (Cricinfo): Chris Gayle hoisted Rangpur Riders to their maiden BPL title, his unbeaten 146 leading them to a 57-run win in the final against Dhaka Dynamites. Dhaka, the defending champions and favourites ahead of the final, were brought down to earth by relentless six-hitting from Rangpur’s batsmen, 21 in all, in front of a packed Mirpur crowd.
Gayle’s innings ticked what was possibly the only remaining blank box in his T20 checklist – a century in a tournament final. He broke two of his own records, smashing 18 sixes to go past the mark of 17 he set during the 2013 IPL, and going past his 126 not out from the first qualifier, played four days ago, to make the highest score in the BPL, 146 not out. He also became the first batsman to score five BPL hundreds.
The final as a contest was over in the fourth over of Dhaka’s reply when Mashrafe Mortaza, playing his fourth BPL final, ran 25 yards towards the long-on boundary to complete the catch that sent back Evin Lewis. The rest of the game was, frankly, just a wait for Rangpur to start the party, and for their owners to shower gifts on their players.
Gayle and Brendon McCullum, the pair billed as the biggest attraction in this year’s BPL, picked the perfect moment for their combined onslaught. They put on an unbroken 201 for the second wicket, the biggest partnership in the BPL.
Shakib frustrates Charles
Shakib Al Hasan began brilliantly for Dhaka, keeping Johnson Charles, who was fresh from scoring his maiden T20 century, quiet in the second over. After four dot balls, three of which Charles tried to hit out of the park, Charles popped one meekly back to the bowler off the leading edge. Dhaka had drawn first blood with only five runs on the board.
Shakib hands Gayle a life
The second-wicket pair initially took things slowly before Gayle hit Mosaddek Hossain for three sixes in the sixth over. After the first one, though, Dhaka could have dismissed Gayle when he drilled one straight to Shakib at cover. He spilled the chance, though. Gayle was on 22 at that point. It did not take too long for Shakib to realise he had made a grave error.
Rude awakening for young Khaled
Gayle and McCullum was always going to go after Khaled Ahmed, the young uncapped pace bowler. In his first over, the 11th of the innings, Gayle top-edged him over the point boundary before connecting cleanly with a swipe over midwicket. Two successive sixes, and from a decent 63 for 1 after 10 overs, Rangpur had begun speeding away from Dhaka.
Gayle crunches into crucial spells
Dhaka’s spin attack was always going to test Rangpur, and with Shahid Afridi and Sunil Narine bowling well in their first few overs, there was some hope that they could pull things back. No chance.
Gayle lifted Afridi’s googly over long-on in the 12th over and then hit him for two more sixes in the 14th over. In between, he slog-swept Narine over midwicket, one of the hits that he really connected.
Hider drops McCullum, his head drops too
In the 15th over, McCullum skied Abu Hider over the square-leg region. Despite the wicketkeeper and another fielder approaching, Hider sprinted hard, calling for the catch and telling the others to back off. Having done that, he failed to even touch the ball, despite diving towards it. Gayle added salt to his wounds, blazing sixes off his next two balls.
Mayhem all the way
Gayle went into overdrive in the last five overs, which produced 75 runs. This despite Narine only conceding two off the 17th over, in which Gayle brought up his hundred. Kieron Pollard went for 24 in the 18th over, with McCullum depositing his slower one over wide long-on and Gayle smiting him over midwicket and long-on. Gayle hit two straight sixes in the 19th over, in which Khaled conceded 21.
In the last over, McCullum took a single off the first ball and let Gayle take over against Shakib, who was bowling only his third over. Gayle declined a single off the second ball, an understandable move given how he was hitting the ball, and promptly hit three of the next four balls for six. The long-on and deep midwicket fielders simply stood still as the ball flew high over their heads.
Dhaka offer no fight
Dhaka’s reply became of academic interest once Shakib’s dismissal for 26 left them five down inside the ninth over. Mehedi Maruf had fallen in the first over, lbw to Mashrafe, and Joe Denly and Lewis followed soon after. Rubel had Pollard offering a catch to Gayle at short fine-leg, before Shakib and Jahurul added 42 runs for the fifth wicket. Jahurul reached his sixth fifty, the only bright note in Dhaka’s innings.