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President’s Cup shines lights in post-pandemic time

  • Published at 07:20 pm October 26th, 2020
Irfan Shukkur
Irfan Shukkur of Najmul XI plays a shot during the final of the tournament against Mahmudullah XI at SBNS on Sunday

Like all other sports, cricket was halted for an indefinite period back in March due to the pandemic situation of COVID-19 in the country

BCB President’s Cup 2020 might be regarded merely a practice tournament, providing country’s cricketers the opportunity to sharpen their skills and fitness that got bit rusty due to a long break but a successful tourney proved it as a very important one in the crucial juncture of country’s cricket.

Like all other sports, cricket was halted for an indefinite period back in March due to the pandemic situation of COVID-19. Bangladesh Cricket Board tried to support its players through guidance and financial aid during that tough time and their main objective was to resurrect the game.

Meanwhile, England set an example of hosting Test cricket as they hosted a couple of series under the strict rule of bio-security, a pre-requisite in the so called ‘new normal’ of post-pandemic era, with no spectator in the field amid optimum health security of the players.

However, emulating England was never easy and pragmatic for a country like Bangladesh and BCB took cautious and practical steps to bring back the game. Their first step was to provide individual practice facilities to cricketers who were following BCB guidelines at home during the lockdown period to keep their sharpness.

In the meantime, BCB tried to set a postponed tour of Sri Lanka but despite highest level effort from both the countries for few weeks, the tour did not go underway as it was impossible for the visitors to follow the strictest COVID-rules of Sri Lanka, a country least effected in this part of the world.

But, BCB, one of the richest cricket boards in the world did not stop their pursuit and once again focused on domestic cricket. Their main target seemed to hold the Premier League, top domestic tournament and prepare themselves to host the likes of West Indies for full series in early 2021.

And there came the idea of BCB President’s Cup, a 50-over tournament to be played in double-league format between three teams. BCB selected the teams and endowed the leadership to three men-Tamim Iqbal, Mahmudullah and Najmul Hossain- for their respective XI.

All the matches were held at Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium under floodlights from 11 October to 25 October, when Mahmudullah XI clinched the trophy beating Nazmul XI. But, the greater picture revealed some more vital outcomes.

Impressive pacers

20-year old pacer Sumon Khan picked up five-for in the final to impress the spectators 

Finding good pacers is an eternal cry in Bangladesh cricket and the tournament dominated by pacers was a treat to watch. All of the top nine wicket takers were pacer with Saifuddin and Rubel Hossain leading the pack with 12 wickets each. That stat itself is encouraging as Rubel is regarded as one of the experienced bowlers while Saifudding is rising through his ranks for the national side. The top bowlers’ list follow the trend as it featured the experienced campaigners like Mustafizur Rahman, Al-Amin Hossain and the 20-year old Sumon Khan, who picked up five-for in the final, to impress the spectators that watched him live through BTV and BCB’s facebook channel. One must also mention the impressive pace and fire of Taskin Ahmed, who seemed to lose his track over the last few years, and promising a great return in international fold. One may argue that the batsmen looked shaky after a long hiatus but two points must be mentioned. Normally, pacers are most affected during a long break but here young and experienced paceman did a praiseworthy job keeping their fitness and sharpness, on the other hand, most often it was seen that spinners are chief destroyers in domestic cricket when batters fail but here the pacers broke that tradition to their credit.

Mushfiq, Shukkur shine with bat among failures of others 

Batsman of the tournament Irfan Sukkur was impressive as the handed wicket-keeper batsman scored 214 runs at an average of 71.33 with two fifties

The tournament did not see run-feast as only in one occasion a team could get past 250-run mark and only one century was scored. Mushfiqur Rahim, the hardworking senior player of Bangladesh scored the only ton with highest 219 runs at an average of 43.80. But his young team-mate Irfan Sukkur was the most impressive as the 27-year old left-handed wicketkeeper-batsman scored 214 runs at an average of 71.33 with two fifties. Young all-rounder Afif Hossain, who scored 98 in a match for Najmul XI, also made some good knocks while Mahmudullah and his experienced teammate Imrul Kayes also made several contributions with bat including in the final. However, most other batsmen in the tournament miserably failed.

Under-19 World Champions struggled

Bangladesh under-19 team achieved a historical feat by clinching the World Cup last year but the young world beaters were mostly affected by pandemic as they lost their chances to shine in the big leagues. In the BCB President’s Cup, many of them were given opportunities but none could really shine. It might be a bit over expectation from these teenagers, but surely the unexpected break in cricket has hampered their growth.

Impressive fielding from young players 

However, the ground fielding and catching of the young players looked impressive. They seemed not to be unfazed by the pandemic situation and kept their fitness. That is a good sign for country’s game as the young cricketers seemingly emphasizing on fielding and fitness training. In modern cricket, this trend is a prerequisite to get success at the top level.

Ultimately, the winner is cricket 

The two teams gather during the prize giving ceremony of the tournament

Above all, cricket is the ultimate winner. The organizers and players seemed to defy all the odds and showed Bangladesh is ready to bring back top level cricket. The result was always secondary in such a tournament and credit goes to BCB and players that the primary objective of enliven the game was achieved fully. Kudos to them.