After more than a month-long battle between seven teams, the Bangabandhu Bangladesh Premier League (BBPL) entered the final phase with Chattogram Challengers, Rajshahi Royals and Khulna Tigers the only three sides left fighting for the ultimate glory. Khulna already made it to the all-important final while Chattogram Challengers will battle it out against Rajshahi Royals in the second qualifier under lights for a place in the final at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur today.
Chattogram Challengers had the most dominating start to the tournament, winning six of their first eight games. For the majority of the tournament, Chattogram missed regular captain Mahmudullah Riyad, who played six of their 12 fixtures owing to a recurring hamstring injury, with the captaincy moving to and from Rayad Emrit and Imrul Kayes. Chattogram looked the most likely to secure top place finish but after a few hiccups at the late end, they only managed third place.
Having got Mahmudullah back after injury and with T20 superstar Chris Gayle joining the team at the business end of the tournament, Chattogram went on to win their eliminator against Dhaka Platoon on Monday to get to the second qualifier.
Gayle played the whole of the last Dhaka leg but the BBPL is yet to see some fireworks from the 40-year-old West Indian. But if the past is any indicator, Gayle, who featured in each of the seven BPL editions till date, usually fires at the latter stages of the tournament. On his day, Gayle alone decides the game for his team.
Gayle’s teammate Muktar Ali was of the same opinion when he talked to the media at a city hotel yesterday.
“We got a boost in confidence after Gayle joined the team. He is playing and slowly getting into his groove. But the day he will play, [like his usual self] he can change the game all by himself and no one else would need to step up in that match,” Muktar said yesterday.
So far, Gayle’s highest innings has been an uncharacteristic 49-ball 38 that came against Dhaka in the only eliminator. Having proven himself in this format in the past and carrying the team all by himself, the self-proclaimed ‘Universe Boss’ will be depended on with today’s game being a do-or-die situation for both Chattogram and Rajshahi. Time may not be on his side but Gayle had earlier reiterated that ‘feels younger as the days go by’ and Chattogram will be hoping their star opener lives up to his billing.