BPL draft: Pak, Afghans in high demand
The players' draft for the ninth edition of the Bangladesh Premier League, slated to begin from January 5 next year, was held at a hotel in the capital yesterday with plenty of star names in the offing for the seven franchises.
The focal point of the early exchanges was the three local stars belonging to Category A -- Liton Das, Mushfiqur Rahim and former T20I captain Mahmudullah Riyad. Three-time BPL Champions Comilla Victorians, who had the rub of the green with first call on quite a few occasions, secured Liton's services first up. Liton, who had featured for Comilla last season as well, was retained by the franchise as the top pick from the draft. Veterans Mushfiqur and Mahmudullah were picked up by Mashrafe Bin Mortaza-led Sylhet Strikers and Shakib Al Hasan's Fortune Barishal respectively. Mrittunjoy Chowdhury was once again roped in by Chattogram Challengers while Sheikh Mahedi Hasan (Rangpur Riders), Mohammad Saifuddin (Khulna Tigers) and Mohammad Mithun (Dhaka Dominators) were the other local stars to be picked from the draft in the first call.
With the postponement of the series between Pakistan and West Indies, there were a flurry of stars available. Pakistan's trio of pacers in Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Rauf and Naseem Shah will put the glitter on the upcoming season, featuring for Comlla Victorians, Rangpur Riders and Khulna Tigers respectively. Fortune Barishal signed Afghanistan's Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran directly to bolster their batting in absence of Chris Gayle.
Comilla, who had secured Mustafizur Rahman as local direct signing, were one of the biggest movers in the foreign direct signing category, picking Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Nabi among other stars while also securing the services of captain Imrul Kayes during the draft.
One of the owners, while talking to this reporter, suggested that the most important strategy during the players' draft was to pick players who can replace foreign stars, indicating that a majority of the foreign players may not be available for the entirety of the tournament.
Mominul Haque, the former Bangladesh Test captain who featured for Comilla in last BPL, was one of the biggest local stars to remain unpicked in the draft. Among local players, Yasir Ali, Najmul Hossain Shanto, Mehedi Hasan Miraz, Shuvogoto Hom, Soumya Sarkar and Mosaddek Hossain were drafted in by the franchises in the first set's second call.
Khulna Tigers, who named Bangladesh ODI captain Tamim Iqbal as direct local signing earlier, roped in Mahmudul Hasan Joy at the eleventh hour of the draft to play alongside Nasum Ahmed, Yasir, opener Munim Shahriar and Sabbir Rahman. While Taskin Ahmed was roped in as direct local signing by Dhaka Dominator, the franchise also took onboard his national team bowling partner Shoriful Islam. Another national team pacer, Ebadot Hossain, will feature for Fortune Barishal.