After a fairly-competitive league phase over a period of one month, the Bangladesh Premier League is now set for an even more intense IPL-style knockout round. Dhaka Dynamites and Khulna Titans – the top-two ranked sides – will face-off against each other in the first qualifier at the Shere Bangla stadium in Dhaka on Tuesday (December 6). The winner of this fixture will advance to the summit clash. The third and fourth-placed sides, Chittagong Vikings and Rajshahi Kings respectively, will spar in the first eliminator at the same venue on the same day after the qualifier.
Dhaka Dynamites vs Khulna Titans, Qualifier
By finishing in the top two slots, both Dhaka and Khulna enjoy the luxury of having two shot at making to the final. While the experienced pair of Kumar Sangakkara and Mehedi Maruf has stepped up with the bat, Dawyne Bravo and Shakib Al Hasan have fired with the ball to help the team dominate in the league stage. Add to that, the power, flair and panache of Andre Russell and the squad looks a very formidable outfit.
Khulna, on the other hand, have more or less been a one-man show. Mahmudullah has led the way with 369 runs to his name while Junaid Khan has managed to more than hold his own with 16 wickets. They don’t quite have the force that Dhaka possess and will depend on the experience of their squad to help them put up a good fight.
Dhaka Dynamites: Shakib al Hasan (c), Alauddin Babu, Ravi Bopara, Dwayne Bravo, Matt Coles, Mahela Jayawardene, Irfan Sukkur, Evin Lewis, Mehedi Maruf, Mosaddek Hossain, Nasir Hossain, Wayne Parnell, Andre Russell, Seekkuge Prasanna, Kumar Sangakkara, Sunzamul Islam, Suhrawadi Shuvo, Tanveer Haider and Usama Mir.
Khulna Titans: Mahmudullah (c), Mohammad Saddam, Abdul Mazid, Abu Sayeem, Alok Kapali, Ariful Haque, Kevon Cooper, Andre Fletcher, Hasanuzzaman, Junaid Khan, Andre Fletcher, Ben Laughlin, Mohammad Asghar, Mosharraf Hossain, Naeem Islam jnr, Nur Alam, Nicolas Pooran, Shafiul Islam, Shuvagata Hom, Lendl Simmons, Taibur Rahman and Riki Wessels.
Chittagong Vikings vs Rajshahi Kings, 1st Eliminator
The eliminator clash brings along a do-or-die situation for the two teams involved and hence, has a lot more riding on the fixture. There’s very little separating the two sides, as they have a 1-1 head-to-head record this year.
Kings will come into the game with a little more confidence, as their victory over Vikings came in their last league stage game. Very little turnaround time would mean Vikings cannot ponder over the negatives and need to regroup at the earliest. The presence of Chris Gayle keeps them buoyed, even if the West Indian has endured an ordinary season by his lofty standards.
In their batting armoury, Vikings also possess Tamim Iqbal, who has scored 425 runs at an average of 42.40 this season. In Mohammad Nabi, they have an exceptional all-rounder who has set the season alight.
If Vikings boast of flashy stars, Kings have been well served by a number of utility players. James Franklin, Darren Sammy, Samit Patel and Sabbir Rahman have all stood up and steered the team out of tricky situations. The rise of Franklin towards the business end gives their batting the much-needed firepower that could be crucial in a decisive fixture like the eliminator.
Chittagong Vikings: Tamim Iqbal (c), Chris Gayle, Abdur Razzak, Anamul Haque, Chaturanga de Silva, Grant Elliott, Imran Khan, Jahurul Islam, Jubair Hossain, Jeevan Mendis, Tymal Mills, Mohammad Nabi, Saqlain Sajib, Shahidul Islam, Shoaib Malik, Dwayne Smith, Subashis Roy, Yasir Ali, Zakir Hasan and Taskin Ahmed.
Rajshahi Kings: Darren Sammy (c), Abul Hasan, Delwar Hossain, Ebadat Hossain, Farhad Reza, Mohammad Sami, Mominul Haque, Nazmul Islam, Nurul Hasan, Samit Patel, Raqibul Hasan, Rony Talukdar, Sabbir Rahman, Salman Hossain, Milinda Siriwardana, Upul Tharanga, Umar Akmal and Kesrick Williams.