The fourth edition of the money-spinning Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) Twenty20 gets underway Friday in Mirpur’s Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium. In the tournament opener, defending champions Comilla Victorians will face Rajshahi Kings while Rangpur Riders will take on Khulna Titans in the evening game.
Winners of the previous edition, the Victorians this time around have formed a strong team in order to defend their title. Charismatic national captain Mashrafe bin Mortaza will be in charge once again. Local players like Imrul Kayes and Liton Kumar Das, among others, will try to make their mark like the last edition. Foreign players in the form of Imad Wasim, Sohail Tanvir, Rashid Khan and locals like Mohammad Saifuddin and Nabil Samad have certainly strengthened their squad.
In particular, Afghanistan leg-spinner Rashid can be vital as the Victorians already have left-arm spinner Ashar Zaidi, who played brilliantly with both bat and ball last time around.
Their opponents, the Kings return to the competition after missing the 2015 edition. They have picked some experienced overseas players like Darren Sammy, Mohammad Sami and Samit Patel, among others.
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After a great start to his Test career, youngster Mehedi Hasan Miraz will no doubt eye a prolific campaign in BPL 4 DHAKA TRIBUNE
All the eyes though will be on all-rounder Mehedi Hasan Miraz and attacking batsman Sabbir Rahman. Miraz and Sabbir are in scintillating form recently and the Kings will bank on their firepower.
On the other hand, the Riders have an exciting squad, particularly their top-order looks explosive on paper. Mohammad Shahzad, Sharjeel Khan, Soumya Sarkar and Nasir Jamshed are all attacking batsmen at the top of the order. Pakistan all-rounder Shahid Afridi has arrived to captain the side and it is being rumoured that the aggressive all-rounder might open the innings. Local players like Sohag Gazi, Ziaur Rahman, Elias Sunny and Muktar Ali also have decent experience of playing T20s, which can be helpful for the Riders.
The Titans are another BPL franchise who had missed the previous edition. They have captured all-rounder Mahmudullah as their captain. The inclusion of left-arm spinner Mosharraf Hossain and pacer Shafiul Islam has bolstered their bowling attack. T20 specialists like Kevon Cooper and Lendl Simmons are also good additions to their squad while the veteran Alok Kapali will surely help them with his vast experience.
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Mahmudullah controls the ball during a game of football DHAKA TRIBUNE
In contrast, Dhaka Dynamites have built a formidable side after capturing the big fish – Shakib al Hasan. Legendary Sri Lankan duo Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara will undoubtedly boost the side. They have some foreign big names in the shape of Evin Lewis, Andre Russell, Dwayne Bravo and Ravi Bopara. Local players like Nasir Hossain and Mosaddek Hossain will be handy for the Dynamites and they are expected to be heavy contenders for the title.
Barisal Bulls have also formed a strong squad with a bunch of local stars like Mushfiqur Rahim, who will lead the side. Experienced players such as Shamsur Rahman, Nadif Chowdhury, Shahriar Nafees and Al Amin Hossain will aid the side's prospects while Taijul Islam and Abu Haider Rony were also useful additions to the team. West Indies world T20 winner Carlos Brathwaite is a big name among their foreign players' list. Rumman Raees, Dilshan Munaweera and Josh Cobb, meanwhile, will certainly shore up their side.
Chittagong Vikings had a disappointing campaign in BPL 3 as the port-city outfit finished last in the points table. The Vikings are determined to turn the tables around as they managed to grab experienced and big-hitting T20 stars like Chris Gayle, Dwayne Smith, Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Nabi. Local lad and captain Tamim Iqbal will look to lead the side from the front while veteran spin wizard Abdur Razzak and leg-spinner Jubair Hossain will look after the spin department. The Vikings will bank on Anamul Haque Bijoy or young wicketkeeper-batsman Zakir Hossain to take care of the keeping duties.