Mirpur: Mohammad Ashraful moved past his previous Twenty20 best of 73 with a ballistic century to power Dhaka Gladiators to an eight-wicket win over Khulna Royal Bengals on Monday at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium. Chasing a target of 176 after Australian import Travis Birt hit an unbeaten 94, Dhaka were taken home with four deliveries left thanks largely to Ashraful's unbeaten 103 off 58 balls, which was the second century in the Bangladesh Premier League this season.
Ashraful started Dhaka's chase by racing to 27 off ten deliveries, but the innings was jolted by three wickets. Tillakaratne Dilshan was out lbw to Samiullah Shenwari for 4 out of an opening stand of 42 in 3.3 overs; Shapoor Zadran removed Shakib Al Hasan for 1; and when Jehab Mubarak extracted Anamul Haque for 0 the score read 45 for 3.
But Ashraful hit the delivery after Haque was out for six over square leg and then slammed Shenwari for an even bigger six. His fifty came up in just 27 balls with a rasping cut past point for four. Joshua Cobb contributed 31 off 20 balls in a fourth-wicket stand of 61.
Ashraful needed seven deliveries to move from 81 to his maiden Twenty20 century; Zadran was hit for three consecutive fours and Shenwari cut past point for four to raise three figures off 56 balls. County pro Darren Stevens opened his shoulders to hit an unbeaten 36 off 21 balls which hastened victory for Dhaka, his stand with Ashraful being worth 74 in 39 balls.
Earlier, after opting to bat, Khulna made a commanding 176 for thanks to Birt's 94 and a 43-ball 65 from Mubarak. The pair featured in a 120-run stand without which Khulna would never have gone far past 100, considering that no other batsman reached double figures.