Charles powers Riders

Johnson Charles' unbeaten 105 powered Rangpur Riders to a 36-run victory against Comilla Victorians in the second qualifier of the BPL at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur yesterday. Photo: Firoz Ahmed

 

Rangpur Riders galloped into the Bangladesh Premier League final by defeating Comilla Victorians by 36 runs in the second qualifier at the Sher-e-Bangla National stadium in Mirpur yesterday.

Rangpur's Brendon McCullum lived up to expectations for the first time in this edition with a solid 78 while Johnson Charles laid the platform for the win with an unbeaten hundred.

Mashrafe Bin Mortaza's charges will now take on the defending champions Dhaka Dynamites led by Shakib Al Hasan in the final today.

Rangpur resumed the innings on 55 for one in seven overs following the drama on Sunday when rain forced a close to the day's play. The Riders then posted a huge total of 192 for three, in chase of which Comilla were bundled out on 156.

The Victorians did make a confident start, riding on skipper Tamim Iqbal and Liton Das, the side reached fifty inside five overs. But after Tamim's departure -- top-edging Mahsrafe -- on 36 runs off 19 balls which included six fours and a six, Comilla slowly lost their grip on the game.

 

Liton top scored for Comilla with a 28-ball 39 that saw him hit six fours and a six but the Victorians were never able to recover in their chase.

Pacer Rubel Hossain was the pick of the bowlers for Rangpur as he scalped three wickets for 34 while teammate Ravi Bopara took two.

Resuming the innings on 46 Charles, who was in great touch, went on to remain unbeaten as he added a 63-ball 105 which included seven sixes and nine fours.

McCullum also displayed an array of power hitting alongside player-of-the-match Charles as the duo struck a BPL record breaking second wicket partnership of 151 runs, surpassing David Malan and Shahriar Nafees's 150-run stand for Barisal Bulls in 2016. It was also the third highest partnership for any wicket in the history of the BPL.

28-year-old Charles who was middling almost everything yesterday hit consecutive sixes off medium pacer Mohammad Saifuddin in the 13th over. The way he struck the first one while clearing his front leg out of the way was a treat to watch.

At the other end Baz looked terrific as well when he went for a paddle sweep towards the leg-side on a full toss from pacer Hasan Ali. Eventually McCullum chose to guide the ball towards the off side and the swashbuckling batsman reached his fifty with a magnificent down-the-wicket six over long on.

However, McCullum was bowled off a slower delivery while going for a slog on 78 runs off 46 balls which featured nine sixes and a four.

Meanwhile Dynamites skipper Shakib informed that they have already formed an idea about their opponent during the group stages and that his side have the momentum and are looking forward to clinching the title again.

“Our bowling attack is good and along with the three main spinners [Sunil Narine, Shahid Afridi and himself] our pacer Abu Hider has also bowled really well throughout the tournament for us. We did fail in the batting department at the middle but now we are consistent which is important at this stage of the tournament. We have the momentum and will try to win the final yet again. There are a lot of big players in the side and everyone is willing to give the best,” Shakib told reporters during a training session at the Academy ground in Mirpur yesterday.

Messi equals historic Gerd Muller goal record

Lionel Messi

 

Barcelona’s Lionel Messi has equalled German great Gerd Muller’s long standing record of scoring the most number of goals for a single club.

Muller’s record of 525 goals for Bayern Munich from 572 appearances, which he scored between 1965 and 1979, had stood for 40 years.

Messi’s goal against Villarreal saw him equal Muller’s tally. Villarreal gave the ball away to Sergio Busquets and the midfielder found Messi hovering close to the box. Messi dribbled to escape through the gap between two Villarreal defenders before scoring with utmost ease.

Messi is also the highest goal scorer in La Liga with 362 goals. The Argentine has scored 49 goals for Barcelona this year, which is more than any other player from the top five European leagues in 2017, according to Opta.

Uncertainty reigns

While the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium was covered due to rain throughout yesterday, the question is whether they will be lifted in time for the BPL's Qualifier-2 today

 

Many may be anticipating another Chris Gayle storm but there are concerns that weather may spoil today's Qualifier-2 of the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) between Comilla Victorians and Rangpur Riders, scheduled to start at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur from 6:00pm.

Due to a depression in the Bay rain may continue today, but Abdur Rahman, a meteorologist of the Dhaka met, said it would not be unlikely to see clear skies from the evening.

If rain does ultimately play spoilsport then Comilla Victorians will advance to the final in accordance with the bylaws as they have a higher standing in the table. But when asked about the matter, BPL governing council member secretary IH Mallick said last night that they were still not sure.

According to sources, a few days back the BPL governing council sent letters to the top four teams to reach a consensus about moving the Eliminator and two Qualifiers a day ahead in case of inclement weather as there were gaps between the matches. However, Comilla Victorians did not agree.

"Let's see what happens tomorrow. We are hoping for the best. According to the bylaws the technical committee can take any decision in greater interest," said Jalal Yunus, Bangladesh Cricket Board director and convenor of the technical committee.

 

The Victorians will try to bounce back strongly from a poor showing against Dhaka Dynamites in Friday's Qualifier-1 and hope that they will be able to send danger man Gayle back cheaply to set a final against Dynamites on Tuesday.

‘They are confident of playing the next series without a coach’

BCB president Nazmul Hassan speaks at a press conference.

 

Bangladesh cricket Board (BCB) president Nazmul Hassan informed the media that he sat down with the three captains of the Bangladesh cricket team to discuss the issue of coach appointment.

The president asked captains Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, Mushfiqur Rahim and Shakib Al Hasan if they are confident about playing the next series without a coach. The three captains had all agreed that they are confident of going on to play the next series even if BCB do not appoint a new coach in due time.

“[Chandika] Hathurusingha is not here with us and at this moment we do not have a coach. It may be the case that we do not appoint a coach ahead of the next series. So I asked them to plan on how we can play the next series,” the BCB president said.

“First of all I asked them if they are confident of playing the next series without a coach and they all said that they are confident.”

The president suggested that there is no hurry in rushing the coach appointment the board will decide due course of events during the board meeting scheduled for tomorrow. The issue of appointing an interim coach is going to be discussed and the president said that the coaching staff was confident of being able to handle the challenges of playing the series without a coach. 

“We are not saying that there will be no coach appointment. It maybe that tomorrow or day after tomorrow we will appoint a coach. I told them to be mentally prepared in case we do not appoint a coach ahead of the next series.

 

The president confirmed that he has not talked to Chandika Hathurusingha yet but suggested that all that remained are formalities but did not confirm whether there will be a definite meeting between him and Hathurusingha.

Ronaldo makes it 5

Portugal and Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo picked up a record-equalling fifth Ballon d'Or atop the Eiffel Tower in Paris yesterday, matching rival Lionel Messi's tally. PHOTO: REUTERS

 

For much of Cristiano Ronaldo's career he has been in direct competition with Barcelona talisman Lionel Messi, both for club and individual honours, so it's fitting that the Real Madrid superstar has the same number of Ballon d'Or awards.

Ronaldo beat Messi and seven of his Champions League-winning Real teammates on Thursday to claim the award for the second straight year and fifth time overall, drawing level with Messi and reaffirming his place as equal partner in the greatest player rivalry the game has ever seen.

However Ronaldo, who will travel to Russia in 2018 in search of World Cup triumph after winning the European Championships in 2016, is not content with his record-equalling haul.

"I want seven. Five is good but seven is my lucky number so seven would be great," he said to French sports newspaper L'Equipe. "I want seven children (he has four) and seven Ballons d'Or."

Ronaldo winning the award is as historic as it is expected. He was 10-1 with British bookmakers before the announcement, who stopped taking bets once it became clear he was going to be rewarded for his role in Real's phenomenal 2016-17 season, in which they pipped Barcelona to the La Liga title and became the first ever European champions to defend their crown in the Champions League. Ronaldo scored 12 goals in the Champions League last season, including knockout stage hattricks against Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid and two in the 4-1 win over Juventus in the final, and 25 in La Liga.

 

The 32-year-old has got off to a slow start in La Liga this season but has scored a barely believable nine goals in the Champions League group stage.

After a career filled with club success, Ronaldo finally got an international monkey off his back in 2016, winning the European Championship with Portugal after a lifetime of near misses. In winning the competition, beating the heavily-favoured hosts France in the final, he broke yet another record -- his three goals made him the first player to ever score in four European Championships.

The personal and team success has convinced one man that he belongs among the best to ever play the game.

"When I finish my career, I will look at the statistics to see if I'm among the best," Ronaldo added. "Surely I will be." 

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