With a majority of the franchises already having picked players outside the draft and retained a few from the previous season, the players' draft of the sixth edition of the Bangladesh Premier League at a Dhaka hotel yesterday lost some of its charm. The presence of Shakib Al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal and Mashrafe Bin Mortaza during the draft was a highlight. All eyes were on Mushfiqur Rahim, who was released by Rajshahi Kings and so was set to be available in the draft. But Chittagong Vikings had applied for the wicketkeeper-batsman to fill their vacant A-plus category just before the draft and that application was approved by the BPL governing council. A big surprise was that Chittagong also roped in former Bangladesh captain Mohammad Ashraful, who was banned for five years for his involvement in match and spot-fixing in the BPL.
Chittagong hit the headlines by drafting Ashraful and giving him a comeback after his five-year ban for fixing BPL matches ended earlier this year. They retained Zimbabwe's Sikandar Raza, New Zealand's Luke Ronchi and left-arm spinner Sunzamul Islam and directly signed Afghanistan opener Mohammad Shahzad and South African Robbie Frylinck. Afghanistan's Najibullah Zadran and South Africa's Cameron Delport were among their foreign picks.
Tamim's Comilla retained Imrul Kayes, Mohammad Saifuddin and Pakistan all-rounder Shoaib Malik, while directly signing Sri Lanka's Asela Gunaratne and England's Liam Dawson. Former Pakistan all-rounder Shahid Afridi and Sri Lanka all-rounder Thisara Perera were among the first two picks for Comilla in the draft. West Indies' Evin Lewis and Afghanistan's Waqar Salamkheil were among their foreign picks. Left-arm pacer Abu Hider and wicketkeeper-batsman Anamul Haque were two key local picks.
Khulna will again be led by Mahmudullah Riyad and have retained Ariful Haque, Nazmul Hossain Shanto and West Indian Carlos Brathwaite. England's Dawid Malan and Ali Khan from the USA were among their direct signings. Zimbabwean wicketkeeper-batsman Brendan Taylor, Sri Lanka pacer Lasith Malinga and Pakistan leg-spinner Yasir Shah were some of their notable foreign picks. Jahurul Islam, Subhasish Roy, Junaid Siddique and Taijul Islam were some of their local picks.
Kings retained Mustafizur Rahman as their A-plus player alongside Mominul Haque, Mehedi Hasan Miraz and Zakir Hasan. They directly signed Afgnistan's Qais Ahmed and Christiaan Jonker from South Africa. Soumya Sarkar, Fazle Rabbi and Kamrul Islam were some of their local picks. Foreign picks included Pakistan pacer Mohammad Sami and Holland's Ryan ten Doeschate.
The franchise retained their injured A-plus player Shakib Al Hasan along with West Indies' Sunil Narine, Rovman Powell and Kieron Pollard. Afghanistan's Hazratullah Zazai and West Indies' Andre Russell were among the directly signed players. Rubel Hossain, Nurul Hasan, Mizanur Rahman and Shahadat Hossain were among Dhaka's notable picks from the local players' draft. They also roped in English batsman Ian Bell and South African Andrew Birch among the foreign players from the draft.
Led by the A-plus Mashrafe, defending champion Rangpur Riders retained West Indian Universe Boss Chris Gayle, left-arm spinner Nazmul Islam and wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Mithun. They had earlier directly signed South Africa's retired batting genius AB de Villiers and England's Alex Hales. English all-rounder Ravi Bopara and South African Rilee Rossouw were among the foreign picks. Rangpur roped in Sohag Gazi, Forhad Reza and Mehedi Maruf among the local cricketers.
Sylhet Sixers signed suspended Australia batsman David Warner. The franchise had picked Liton Das as the A-plus category player before the draft while they retained Nasir Hossain, Sabbir Rahman and Sohail Tanveer from the previous season. Afghanistan's Gulbadin Naib, West Indies' Andre Fletcher and Mohammad Irfan of Pakistan were among the big foreign picks. Nabil Samad, Ebadat Hossain, Alok Kapali, Al-Amin Hossain and under-19 skipper Towhid Hridoy were among the local picks.
May 23, 2013 - Ashraful made a witness statement to the Anti Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) of the ICC confirming that he had been involved in fixing the SLPL Match between Ruhunu Royals and Wayamba United played on August 26, 2012
June 4, 2013 - In a tearful confession at his Banashree residence, Mohammad Ashraful admitted to fixing matches in the Bangladesh Premier League 2013 and over his 12-year international career.
June 18, 2014 - The BPL anti-corruption tribunal banned Ashraful for eight years (which was later reduced to five years following his cooperation with some anti-corruption programmes). He was banned on account of four charges, one of which was disclosed as fixing four matches, of which he was found to be involved in two.
September 25, 2016 - Ashraful returned to domestic cricket playing for Dhaka Metropolis in the National Cricket League match against Dhaka Division. His international ban ended on August 13 this year.