A season showcasing the new and old
Gone are the days when the pressure in the country's lone 50-over List A completion, the Dhaka Premier League, was described as so severe by players that it prepared them to face most situations in international cricket. However, the competition won by Abahani on Thursday is still important because it is the premier venue to showcase domestic talent and further many cases for entry into the national team.
From national discards, experienced domestic campaigners, regular national players to the emerging youngsters, every single cricketer is keen to prove their worth and DPL 2018 has witnessed quite a few remarkable performances, along with a few disappointments. The Daily Star assesses the performances of three different sets of players in the DPL this season.
THE NATIONAL STARS
Bangladesh ODI skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza once again proved why he is still the best fast bowler of the country at the age of 34 after his record-breaking performance with the ball and he was instrumental in Abahani's success. The veteran cricketer became the highest wicket-taker in a single edition of the competition -- going past went past Abu Hider's tally of 35 for Gazi Group last season – and ended up with 39 wickets in 16 games at an average of 14.61. Mashrafe also became the first Bangladeshi to pick up four wickets in four deliveries in the DPL, a feat he achieved against Agrani Bank in the last over to clinch a dramatic win.
Mashrafe's success is spectacular and expected, but at a time when there are a few places to fill in the national batting line-up, Liton Das's fine form for Prime Doleshwar, with 537 runs from 10 games with three hundreds and a fifty, is an encouraging sign. The wicketkeeper-batsman impressed in the Test series against Sri Lanka earlier this year and also during the Nidahas Trophy in Sri Lanka, and his performances in the DPL means that he can hope for an extended run at the top level.
Soumya Sarkar hit a fabulous but futile 154 for Agrani Bank in the relegation decider against Brothers Union that took his tally to 343 runs from eight matches, but before that his form was patchy. With Liton and Soumya competing to be Tamim Iqbal's opening partner in ODIs, this league certainly furthers the former's case.
EXPERIENCED DOMESTIC CRICKETERS AND THE NATIONAL TEAM HOPEFULS
This season, former Bangladesh captain Mohammad Ashraful hit a rich vein of form since returning from a ban for fixing last year. He hit five centuries -- three on the trot for Kalabagan Krira Chakra -- and finished in the top five run-getters list with 665 runs in 13 games at an average of 66.50. However, those runs were scored at a below-par 74.13 strike rate, which may have contributed to the fact that three of those centuries came in losing causes.
Two other prolific run-scorers in Anamul Haque and Naeem Islam present two kinds of possibilities. Anamul made a comeback to the national side in the ODI tri-series in January, and although he was subsequently dropped, his 744 runs for Abahani will ensure that he stays in national focus. For Naeem, who scored 720 runs, it is an extension of his continued good form in domestic cricket but it is doubtful that he has shown anything this season that will make the selectors reconsider.
Prime Doleshwar skipper Forhad Reza is in a similar scenario; he continued being a domestic star with 29 scalps in 16 games, but it is doubtful whether the performance turned heads.
The just concluded league has been arguably the best season for showcasing some magnificent and consistent performances from young and emerging cricketers. Young left-handed opener Nazmul Hossain Shanto led the way for the next generation finished as the top run-scorer and has been an outstanding performer for Abahani, scoring 749 runs in 16 games at an average of 57.61 with four hundreds, suggesting that it may be time for the 19-year-old to have a second stint in the national side, having played a solitary Test on the tour of New Zealand in January 2017.
The cricketers from the recent Under-19 World Cup in New Zealand have also stepped up. Wicketkeeper-batsman Mahidul Islam scored 609 runs in 16 games and also has the most dismissals by a wicketkeeper with 28 victims for Khelaghar Samaj Kallyan Samity. Legends of Rupganj's under-19 cricketer Mohammad Naim also showed his class with 556 runs in 12 games. Among the bowlers, under-19 bowlers left arm pacer Qazi Onik has been a revelation for Mohammedan with his sheer pace, tight line and length that bagged him 28 wickets from just 11 games at an average of 19.1 – the second-best average in the top five wicket-takers' list. Off-spinner Nayeem Hassan, who received his maiden call-up in the Test squad against Sri Lanka in January, picked up 23 wickets in 16 games for Gazi Group Cricketers.