It has become compulsory that one check the weather forecast before getting too excited for the two Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) matches that are set to take place at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur today.
After all, it was the rain that compelled the BPL's technical committee to restart the league. It is not often that one gets to see such a shift in schedule. Fortunately for the teams and BPL's governing council, the danger that Cyclone Nada had posed to the tournament earlier this week has passed and the weather is expected to be fine today. It might be a bit cloudy and the captain that wins the toss in the afternoon game may want to bowl first, but there is barely any chance of rain disrupting any of the two matches.
At 2:00pm today, reigning champions Comilla Victorians will take on the Chittagong Vikings. On paper, the Tamim Iqbal-led Vikings seem to be a slightly better team than the Victorians. But then again, this was the case in the first season as well and Comilla ended up winning the competition. Chittagong meanwhile had the likes of Tillakaratne Dilshan and Mohammad Amir, but ended up finishing last.
Additionally, it is quite difficult to predict how a team might perform under someone like Mashrafe Bin Mortaza. It is no secret that Mashrafe somehow manages to bring the best out of his players, something that was very noticeable last season.
However, when you analyse the players of each team, it seems the Vikings have a slightly more balanced squad. They have got a decent top order and also have plenty of variety in their bowling attack with the likes of Abdur Razzak, Jubair Hossain, Saqlain Sajib, Taskin Ahmed and Shubhashis Roy. They have got good foreign all-rounders in Dwayne Smith, Jeevan Mendis, Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Nabi.
Comilla will have to depend a lot more on their local players. One of the key reasons Comilla won last time was that some of their cricketers remained consistent throughout the league. Ashar Zaidi's all-round performance was extremely crucial and Imrul Kayes played well too.
Comilla too have a good bowling attack with Mashrafe, Imad Wasim, Sohail Tanvir, Rashid Khan and Zaidi. In order to strengthen their batting, they are likely to pick Ahmed Shehzad among the four foreign players. A lot of their batting, which seems to be their weak point, will depend on Imrul and Liton Das.
The key players of this game are likely to be Chittagong's Tamim and Comilla's Imrul. If one of the national openers get going things could be difficult for the opposing team.
The second game, set to begin at 7:00pm, will be played between the Dhaka Dynamites and the Barisal Bulls. The Dynamites, led by Shakib Al Hasan, will definitely be the favourites in this contest. They have got a good group of both local and foreign players.
With Mosaddek Hossain, Nasir Hossain, Mohammad Shahid and Sanjamul Islam, the local players in these conditions can be more than a handful. Add to that their star-studded foreign list and they look a dangerous side.
Shakib had in fact admitted last week that it could be difficult for them to select the four foreign players in the 11 since they have got Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Andre Russell, Dwayne Bravo, Seekkuge Prasanna and Ravi Bopara available. It is likely that the Dynamites will go in with Russell, Bravo and Sangakkara at least.
For Barisal, a lot will depend on skipper Mushfiqur Rahim and Thisara Perera. They have got good players in Al-Amin Hossain, Taijul Islam, Shamsur Rahman and Abu Hider, but these players need to find their groove quickly.