Action shifts to thrill-a-minute cricket
With the historic England tour done with, focus now shifts to the shortest format of cricket with the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) starting on November 4. Over the next two days The Daily Star Sports will be reviewing the seven participating teams. The reviews begin with last year's champions.
The franchise will be led by Mashrafe Bin Mortaza for the second consecutive season. Last season, none of the analysts or pundits had given the Victorians much of a chance of making it through to the knock-out stages, let alone winning the competition. However, under the inspiring leadership of Mashrafe a number of players hit form last season and that was the key behind their success. Imrul Kayes's aggressive approach at the top and pacer Abu Hider's sudden bursts took many teams by surprise.
The Victorians have preferred to use a similar strategy this time and are counting on their heroes from the last season. In terms of brand value, their players may not be right at the top, but their picks were efficient last time and they hope for similar results this time as well.
Their lead local players are Mashrafe, Imrul and Liton Das. They also have Mohammad Al-Amin, who had a good run in Bangladesh's domestic circuit last season. They have banked on a number of talented under-19 players as well with Nazmul Hossain Shanto, Mohammad Saifuddin and Mohammad Jashimuddin in the mix. The grey areas in their squad will be filled up by a bunch of clever foreign buys.
They have got Marlon Samuels, Nuwan Kulasekara and Ashara Zaidi, all of whom did well for them in the last season. Zaidi, in fact, was the player of the tournament. They also have added Afghanistan leg-spinner Rashid Khan to their attack. Bangladesh's national players found it difficult to negotiate him in the recent series and he is expected to be quite a handful. They will be coached by Bangladesh under-19 coach Mizanur Rahman.
Despite forming quite a strong team in the last season, the Vikings failed to make their mark last time. It was especially unfortunate since the players had received ample support from the Vikings administration. They were one of the first ones to clear the complete payments of the players and according to skipper Tamim Iqbal, at no point did the owners interfere with the team planning.
As a result, the Vikings have gone up a gear and decided to form an even more formidable team. That they were really serious about the league was reflected in them signing up their coach, Mohammad Salahuddin, months before the start of the league.
Judging by their list of foreign players, you can tell that they didn't really want to leave any gaps this time. West Indian powerhouse Chris Gayle is expected to join the Vikings in the last week of November. The rest of the players, the likes of Dwayne Smith, Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Nabi, Jeevan Mendis and Chaturanga De Silva are expected to join prior to the start of the tournament on November 4. Apart from the players who played for Chittagong last year--Tamim, Taskin Ahmed and Anamul Haque -- they have also included the likes of Abdur Razzak, Shubashis Roy and Jubair Hossain Likhon.
They recently played a game against a BKSP team which they ended up winning. Jubair, the leg-spinner who recently lost his place in the national team, scalped five wickets in that game. With Taskin, Shubashis, Jubair and Razzak in the team, their bowling department looks solid. As for their batsmen, the combination of Tamim, Gayle, Smith and Malik is bound to make any opposing team nervous.
In terms of local players, it will not be an understatement to say that Dhaka Dynamites are right there on top. They boast some of the best performing Bangladeshi cricketers in the team. Apart from Shakib Al Hasan, the young Mosaddek Hossain and Nasir Hossain they have also got a host of other cricketers who have been doing well in domestic cricket.
The likes of Irfan Sukkur and Tanvir Haider could be quite a handful. Alauddin Babu, the pace-bowling all-rounder, was recently included in the national pool and has been doing well in the high performance programme. The key for the Dynamites is that they have a number of all-rounders in the side.
Shakib, Mosaddek, Nasir and Alauddin are the Bangladeshi allrounders. Then there are the foreigners like Andre Russel, Dwayne Bravo and Wayne Parnell who are expected to join the team. They are also expected to get batsmen Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene and Ravi Bopara. The list, however, may change a bit considering that the BPL has frequently witnessed last-minute changes with regards to the foreign players list.