BPL joy for Azhar as he is named overseas MVP

Kent’s veteran all-rounder Azhar Mahmood was at the crease as his franchise club Dhaka Gladiators swept to an eight-wicket triumph in the inaugural Bangladesh Premier League Twenty20 competition.

The former Pakistan Test player was at the non-striker’s end as Anamul Haque clipped the winning boundary to see Gladiators to their landslide victory total of 144 for two against Barisal Burners with 26 balls in hand.

The 37-year-old was then named as the most valuable overseas player of the event having scored 298 runs at an average of 33.11 and at a strike rate of 143.36 with a highest score of 77 not out. Added to which, the wily seamer also bagged 11 wickets at an economy rate of 8.2 per over. Mahmood quipped afterwards: “The journey has been great, but the body is aching.”

In front of a capacity 25,000 crowd at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium, Mahmood’s Dhaka-based franchise easily overcame a Burners side captained by Brad Hodge and including one-time Kent and Sussex paceman Yasir Arafat.

A second wicket stand worth 110 from 70 balls between Imran Nazir and Anamul created the platform for the Gladiators’ victory, leaving Mahmood a virtual spectator and Shahid Afridi – flown in from the UAE to replace Kent’s Darren Stevens in the Gladiators’ starting line-up – as an unused No5 batsman.

Afridi did star with the ball, however, claiming three for 23 in his four-over stint to help restrict Barisal to a modest 20-over total of 140 for seven.

Stevens, jettisoned from the Dhaka side upon Afridi’s eleventh hour arrival, played in all ten qualifying games, scoring 170 runs at an average of 24.28 and at a strike rate of 110.38 per 100 balls.

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