Andre Russell magic puts Rajshahi Royals in BPL final

Andre Russell looks on © Getty Images

Rajshahi Royals 165 for 8 (Russell 54*, Sukkur 45) beat Chattogram Challengers 164 for 9 (Gayle 60, Nawaz 2-13) by two wickets

Andre Russell blew away Chattogram Challengers at the final hurdle, dragging Rajshahi Royals to the BPL final after a thrilling two-wicket win in the second qualifier. The match ended when Russell slammed Asela Gunaratne’s no-ball for a six over midwicket, the seventh of his 21-ball unbeaten half-century.

Russell, who said ahead of the tournament that he preferred the BPL to the Big Bash League, delivered right when it mattered, winning it with four balls and only two wickets to spare. That the margin was so close indicated how the match wasn’t really shaping up to go Rajshahi’s way until the West Indian’s intervention.

Malik leaves too much for Russell

With his side in need of quick runs, Shoaib Malik‘s 14 off 22 balls was a strange little innings. He was first playing a supportive role to Irfan Sukkur, who was striking the ball fairly well during his stay, but even when he made 45 off 42 balls with the six fours, Malik had to take control of the situation. Instead, he continued to mistime the ball, and ended up caught top-edging a sweep off Ziaur Rahman, leaving Russell to make the bulk of the remaining 85 runs to win, off just 40 balls.

But no chase is too much for Russell

The match turned in the 17th over when Rayad Emrit, despite his two wickets in the over, went for 20 runs. Rubel Hossain pinned down Russell in the following over with four dot balls, but Russell still struck a six off the last ball.

Then came the big over when young Mehedi Hasan Rana, so impressive in the league phase and leading into this over, went for 23 runs. Russell slammed two sixes and a four, before tail-ender Abu Jayed edged one more four to leave eight off the last over. Crucially, Russell would be on strike.

More to follow

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84

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