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|Jaker Ali Anik||5||2||1||0||250.00|
|AB de Villiers||34||21||2||2||161.90|
|Mehedi Hasan Rana||4.0||0||57||0||14.25|
After a nifty win against Rangpur Riders, Sylhet Sixers had an excellent opportunity to get among the current top-four teams in the competition, but their recent loss to Dhaka Dynamites raised plenty of questions. The Sixers now have two wins in six matches and will need to play out of their skins in all their upcoming matches beginning from 19th January at Sylhet where they play against Rangpur Riders in what will be an important fixture for both the sides. The Riders are just one place above them, separated only by net run rate. With only four matches to go for both the sides, they both can only ill-afford to lose a game and considering the stakes involved, the upcoming contest is expected to be a thriller of a game.
The Sixers are placed at the sixth spot in the points table with four points in six matches and a win here will probably push them to the fourth spot albeit with one game less in their kitty. They defeated Rangpur Riders in the last encounter between the two teams and will certainly draw confidence from that.
However, they were left distraught by Dhaka Dynamites in their most recent game which they lost by five wickets. Batting first after winning the toss, none of their top-order batsmen showed enough resilience barring their skipper, David Warner. Battling an elbow injury and set to fly home on 21st of this month, David Warner played an invaluable role to drag his team's total to 158. Jaker Ali and Liton Das contributed with a 25 and 27 each, but it was way too less than their team needed them to score.
Despite a small total, the Sixers started off enthusiastically and removed three Dynamites batsmen in the first five overs with Mizanur Rahman, Sunil Narine, and Rony Talukdar all back in the hut. Shakib Al Hasan then launched a counter-attack against the Sixers' bowlers which they had no answers to. Apart from Sandeep Lamichhane, who picked up one wicket for 27 in his four overs, all bowlers were either too expensive or failed to pick any wickets. They struggled in the death overs as well where Andre Russell punished their bowlers, especially Taskin Ahmed, as Dynamites cruised to the total with more than two overs to spare.
Liton Das, Sabbir Rahman, David Warner, Nicholas Pooran, Alok Kapali, Afif Hossain, Jaker Ali Anik, Taskin Ahmed, Sandeep Lamichhane, Mehedi Hasan Rana, Mohammad Irfan.
No one would have thought that the defending champions and the team full of so many hard-hitting veterans of the game would find themselves in a spot of bother midway through the tournament. Thanks to a couple of close losses, the Riders are in a hole for which they have only themselves to blame. The positive thing going for them is their excellent net run rate which could come in handy when the things get tight as far as qualification for the playoffs is concerned.
The Riders last played a match on 16th January which coincidentally was against the team they're facing next, that is, Sylhet Sixers. Bowling first on a decent batting wicket, Rangpur Bowlers were clueless against David Warner who appeared to be a man on a mission. Chris Gayle was thwarted for 14 in one of the death overs as we saw David Warner bat right-handed for the first time in his career. Except for Shafiul Islam, who picked up three for 31, and Benny Howell, none of their bowlers according to the plan and leaked plenty of runs.
With the kind of batting lineup Riders have on paper, a target of 187 wouldn't have worried them. However, the early loss of Chris Gayle, Mehedi Maruf, and Alex Hales in the first three overs derailed their chase. In fact, it was surprising to see them get to 160 after the start they had. Rilee Rossouw played a vital role in trimming down the deficit and scored 58 off just 32 deliveries.
All in all, the defending champions have been all about Rilee Rossouw this season. They've had their bowlers contribute in a couple of their matches, but no one except Rossouw has been as consistent as the team needed them to be. AB de Villiers has joined the squad which will be a huge boost for their batting-order which has been single-dimensional so far. The Riders will be hoping to get back to the winning ways with his arrival and if the Riders find back their momentum, they will be a tough team to deal with - not just in the upcoming match, but in all the matches to come.
Chris Gayle, AD Hales, Mohammad Mithun, AB de Villiers, Rilee Rossouw, Nazmul Islam, Mashrafe Mortaza, Nahidul Islam, Farhad Reza, S Gazi, Shafiul Islam.
We are slowly but surely approaching the business end of the tournament and teams almost all teams look settled as far as their combination is concerned. However, the Riders and Sixers are two teams which have struggled with their batting and have their work cut out in the back-end of the tournament. David Warner is set to fly out soon and Sixers will want to squeeze every possible point before he leaves the side making their upcoming clash ever more important. The Riders, on the contrary, have AB de Villiers joining them which will be a colossal boost for their otherwise out of form batting lineup. The Protean combination of Rossouw and de Villiers might just be the tonic they're looking for. With a threatening batting lineup, the Riders are better placed to win the upcoming battle between the two sides.
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