Bangladesh Premier League: A lot to look forward to in the 4th edition

Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) – once threatened by corruption, once marred by payment chaos, once embarrassingly aborted for two seasons in a row – might be a work in progress but is back for its fourth edition this year: a season that aims to follow-up major resurrection work kick-started last season.

With the tournament set to start on Friday (November 4), here is a brief summary of BPL.

The Good

Following a historic Test win at Dhaka, BPL seems to be relevantly well-timed for Bangladesh, working on its reputation as a host nation amidst recent apprehensions about security. A box-office tour by England has already sown seeds of trust, and now BPL takes over to attempt allaying security concerns further.

Liam Dawson, England’s one-day all-rounder, has already set a high-profile precedent by ignoring the Professional Cricketers Association’s advisory that warned players against participating in BPL; Riki Wessels, Ravi Bopara and Tymal Mills have confirmed their participation too; Moeen Ali has publicly endorsed BPL, saying that the decision should rest on the individual players; Chris Gayle has signed up to to play five matches for Chittagong Vikings later in the season – so a cricket-focused, security concern-defying tournament is what beckons, just like it should be.

The New

Two new franchises, Khulna Titans and Rajshahi Kings, will feature in the 2016 edition of BPL, as replacements for Khulna Royal Bengals and Duronto Rajshahi respectively – two now-defunct franchises which weren’t reestablished after all BPL teams stood suspended at the end of the second edition following corruption issues.

Team Captain Coach Star players
Khulna Titans Mahmudullah Riyad Stuart Law Andre Fletcher, Lendl Simmons, Kevon Cooper, Ben Laughlin, Shuvagata Hom
Rajshahi Kings Darren Sammy Sarwar Imran Umar Akmal, Mehedi Hasan, Mohammad Sami, Kesrick Williams
The Showstoppers

Chris Gayle (Barisal Bulls), Kumar Sangakkara (Dhaka Dynamites), Shakib Al Hasan (Dhaka Dynamites), Mahmudullah (Khulna Titans), Tamim Iqbal (Chittagong Vikings) and Mashrafe Mortaza (Comilla Victorians) are some of the star players who will feature in this edition of BPL. Mortaza has won all the three BPL editions as captain – first two with the Dhaka Gladiators and one with the Comilla Victorians.

Sylhet Super Stars now stands defunct, and given that two new franchises are debuting this season, there has been a major movement of big players.

Player Old Team New Team
Mahmudullah Riyad Barisal Bulls Khulna Titans
Chris Gayle Barisal Bulls Chittagong Vikings
Shahid Afridi Sylhet Super Stars Rangpur Riders
Shakib Al Hasan Rangpur Riders Dhaka Dynamites
The Interns

  • Mehedi Hasan – Rajshahi Kings: Coming on the back of a Man-of-the-Series performance in a watershed drawn series against England, trust Mehedi Hasan’s derived confidence to make a mark in this edition of BPL. Aged only nineteen, Mehedi doesn’t have a lot of T20s on his resume. Rather, he has none, but do not take your eyes off. And with an array of left-arm spinners available to squads, Mehendi provides a variation in terms of off-spin.
  • Imad Wasim – Comilla Victorians: Banking on sliders to humiliate West Indies recently, Imad Wasim is a product of his times. He relies on lack of spin to pin the batsmen in front, and on pitches that will progressively start to turn, the sliders should evolve into a lethal weapon.
  • Rashid Khan – Comilla Victorians: Another bowler – a legspinner – who has an unconventional stock delivery. He is known for his quick wrong ‘uns that even West Indies found tough to deal with in the World T20 earlier this year.
  • Carlos Brathwaite – Barisal Bulls: Young, expressive, nonchalant, powerful – Carlos Brathwaite sums up West Indies cricket with his personality. The four sixes he hit against Stokes in the final of the 2016 World T20 at the Eden Gardens is a part of cricketing folklore now and he is one of the major crowd-drawers this season.
  • Mohammad Shahzad – Rangpur Riders: Perhaps the most popular player from the Associate and Affiliated cricket nations put together. Mohammad Shahzad – aged 28 – made a mark in the latest edition of World T20 in India and should he get going this BPL, it will be a carnival. Powerful hits straight down the ground, mighty slogs, Dhoni-inspired helicopter shots over cow corner and swagger: he has them all.
  • Special mention: Gidron Pope is a 19-year old who is part of St Lucia Zouks and bats in the top order

The Absentees

Mustafizur Rahman is injured this season and has left big boots for Dhaka Dynamites to fill this season. Sharjeel Khan, Babar Azam and Imran Khan have been named in Pakistan squad that will tour New Zealand for a two-Test series and will be unavailable.

The Format

The tournament will be played between seven participating teams in a double round-robin format, with two games scheduled on each day. Each team will play the other six twice during the league stages, and the top four will be eligible for the play-offs, which will consist of an eliminator, two qualifiers and the grand finale, much on the lines of Indian Premier League. You can check the schedule here.

The Venue

Much like last year, BPL will spread across the two stadiums in Dhaka and Chittagong. The tournament will begin at the iconic Shere Bangla National Stadium, Dhaka, move to Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium, Chittagong for a 10-match stint, before returning to Dhaka for the remaining league games and play-offs. Blame the T20 format or an overdose of dew, but last year saw both venues favouring the teams batting second. Expect more of the same this year, with toss playing a crucial role in deciding matches.

Venue % win batting second
Dhaka 58
Chittagong 75

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