The wait proved to be longer than anticipated in resuming competitive cricket in the country since the coronavirus pandemic shook the entire world earlier this year.
But it is finally over. The Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) is all set to begin the five-team Bangabandhu T20 Cup today with the participation of domestic cricketers, creating hype among the players as well as the followers.
Mushfiqur Rahim's Beximco Dhaka will take on Najmul Hossain's Minister Rajshahi in the opening game of the tournament while Mahmudullah Riyad's Gemcon Khulna will face off against Tamim Iqbal's Fortune Barishal in the days' second fixture.
Although the board arranged the BCB President's Cup last month, it was only a test-case basis before resumption of proper competitive cricket in Bangladesh.
The T20 competition will certainly bear huge importance for everyone, from the organisers to the players and the cricket-lovers of the country. In this article, The Daily Star looks at some salient aspects of this tournament.
It was not going to be easy for the BCB to come up with the plan to arrange a proper domestic competition considering the coronavirus situation in the country right from the very beginning. The board opted for the slow and steady method to resume cricket and could be called successful in arranging the BCB President's Cup last month, albeit on a much lower scale. The BCB has given paramount importance to players' safety and in ensuring bio-secure bubble, which itself is a complex process in Bangladesh's context. The board did not back down from its plans after the tour of Sri Lanka got postponed in October and the T20 tournament starting from today will be a dress rehearsal for the for hosting international series against the West Indies in January next year.
Return of Shakib Al Hasan
The Bangabandhu T20 Cup will also be the comeback tournament for ace all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan, who is back after serving a one-year ban from all sorts of cricket, ending on October 29. The star cricketer was handed the ban by the International Cricket Council after he failed to report a corrupt approach which he had received from a bookie. There were, however, lot of talks regarding Shakib -- mostly controversies for his off -field activities upon his arrival in the country. Even Shakib would want to be in the news for the right reasons and through performances as all eyes will be on him during this tournament.
Expectations from the players
The cricketers were desperate at one point to make a return to the field after being 'locked down' in their homes since the pandemic began. It was an exceptional situation where the players were barred from getting on to the field -- obviously for their health safety -- but this has created a lot of hunger in every single player in Bangladesh. But it will also be important for players like Soumya Sarkar, Sabbir Rahman, Liton Das, Naim Sheikh and others who could not live up to the expectations on may previous occasions including the BCB President's Cup. Time has come for the new generation to take more responsibility and be match-winners, not just for a game but for the entire tournament.