Carnival shifts to Chittagong
The last time the country's cricketing fraternity shifted their focus from the home of cricket in Mirpur to the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium (ZACS) in Chittagong, they witnessed magnificence. The way England and Bangladesh battled neck and neck in the first Test, right up till the fifth day on a turning track, was an excellent display of Test cricket and it had the world hooked to their television sets.
A few weeks on and the port city is once again at the heart of the cricketing focus. This time though it will be for the shortest format of the game. The Dhaka Dynamites, the Chittagong Vikings, the Rangpur Riders and the Barisal Bulls will begin the Chittagong leg of the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) at the ZACS today.
It is unfair to compare Test cricket to T20 cricket and it is even more unfair to compare the excitement that was generated from the first Test between England and Bangladesh to the BPL. However, Chittagong's fans, who don't get to see their heroes in town as often as Dhakaites, will want to make the most of this BPL leg. And for the sake of them, one hopes that the Chittagong leg provides plenty of excitement.
The BPL will kick-start at 1:00pm today with Shakib Al Hasan's Dhaka Dynamites taking on Tamim Iqbal's Chittagong Vikings. The fortunes of these two teams have been completely opposite so far. The Dynamites, save for a lone defeat at the hands of the Rajshahi Kings, have dominated the league. They have posted the highest score of the competition so far and are on top of the league with six points. The Vikings on the other hand are going through a rough patch, having managed just two points in four games with one win, and will be desperately hoping to do well on their home turf in order to come back in the competition.
Both the teams have big names, but the difference is that Dhaka's players have performed, whereas Chittagong's have not. Nasir Hossain, Mehedi Maruf and Mosaddek Hossain have been brilliant for Dhaka. So much so, that they have eclipsed Dhaka's star studded foreign line-up.
Meanwhile, Chittagong been unable to click since their unexpected last over defeat to the Khulna Titans. While Tamim Iqbal has scored two half-centuries for the team, the rest of their batting order have failed to make mark. Their bowlers have also been leaking runs. For them to do well, they need to regroup as a team and their players need to regain their form and the momentum.
The evening game, which will begin at 5:45 pm, will see Naeem Islam's Rangpur Riders take on Mushfiqur Rahim's Barisal Bulls. Both of these teams have done well in Dhaka -- Barisal have won three out of their four games and Rangpur have won two out of their three games.
But at the moment, the Bulls seem to have the momentum as they come into the game having won three on the trot, while Rangpur received quite a thrashing from Dhaka in their last game.
The contest will boil down to Rangpur's spinners versus Barisal's batsmen. Rangpur's attack consists of Arafat Sunny, Shohag Gazi and Shahid Afridi and they will have to tackle the highest run-getters of the tournament so far: Mushfiqur Rahim and Shahriar Nafees.