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Shahid Afridi blasted 26 off 20 balls and picked up 2 wickets as Rangpur Riders cantered to a seven-wicket win against Khulna Titans in a Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) match in Chittagong today.

The afternoon clash of the slam-bang T20 competition turned into a low-scoring affair when table-toppers Khulna could manage only 125-7, a sharp contrast to high-scoring affairs on a wicket where 180-plus scores were not safe in the last couple of rounds.

Chasing an easy target, Rangpur never looked in trouble despite losing their left-handed opener Soumya Sarker (3) earlier. A portly Mohammad Shahzad struck a fluent 37 off 38 balls with the help of four fours and a six. The Afghan right-hander also shared a vital 74 runs for the second wicket with Mithun.

Mithun’s enterprising 41-ball knock featured three sixes and a four. Rangpur’s expensive Pakistan recruit Shahid Afridi, who is yet to flourish to his devastating potential the world cricket has seen before, struck a cameo 20-ball 26.

Mithun hit the winning runs, a four down to the third-man fence, as Rangpur reached 129-3 with one over to share. With this win Rangpur leapfrogged Khulna at the top of the table on better run-rate after both were tied on 10 points each.

Earlier, superb performances on the field from Rangpur enabled them to restrict Khulna whose captain Mahmudullah Riyad’s decision to bat first backfired. Rangpur’s left-arm spinner Arafat Sunny struck early by removing both the openers inside five overs with only 20 runs on the board. Khulna were never allowed to build any momentum as they lost wickets at regular intervals. Only the fourth-wicket stand of 56 in 9.1 overs pushed them to a below-par total. Taibur Rahman with 32 was the highest scorer for Khulna in their faltering effort with the bat.

Rangpur bowlers managed to keep the noose tight around Khulna throughout the innings by bowling tidy spells from both ends. Three Rangpur bowlers — Arafat 2-16, Afridi 2-30 and Rubel 2-19 – picked up two wickets each.

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