2019 is here and even before the first week ends, another T20 league will be underway. January 5 will mark the beginning of the sixth edition of the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL). Defending champions Rangpur Riders will square off against Chittagong Vikings to kick-start the one-month long T20 extravaganza.
Rangpur Riders, Chittagong Vikings, Comilla Victorians, Khulna Titans, Dhaka Dynamites, Rajshahi Kings and Sylhet Sixers are the seven participating teams who will play 46 matches, including the playoffs and the final to determine the winner.
In late October, over 500 players were a part of the player draft and over 100 players were picked by the seven franchises.
A number of international overseas and Bangladesh players will take part in the league and hence, with only a few days to go for the tournament, let’s take a quick look at one player to watch out for from each team.
Rangpur Riders – AB de Villiers
On May 23rd, 2018, AB de Villiers shocked the world when he announced his retirement from international cricket. However, he did reveal that he was open to playing other forms of cricket across the globe. Thus, it was no surprise that the South African star was the main attraction during the draft for this season that took place a couple of months back.
AB de Villiers returned to the field for the first time since announcing his international retirement in the Mzansi Super League (MSL) while playing for the Tshwane Spartans. He scored 282 runs at an average of 31.33 and a strike-rate of 162.06 which included a couple of fifties. However, despite finishing in the top ten run-getters, the 34-year-old star batsman didn’t really hit his straps as he looked patchy on occasions. He started and finished the tournament with half-centuries but had middling scores throughout the season.
However, he will certainly be one of the stars to watch out for and will be a key player for the Rangpur Riders as they look to defend their title.
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Comilla Victorians – Steve Smith
There was a lot of confusion around Steve Smith’s inclusion for this edition of the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL). After Comilla Victorians acquired the services of the former Australian captain as a replacement for Sri Lankan all-rounder Asela Gunaratne in November, the franchises had objected his inclusion last month. However, now the confusion seems to have settled and Smith is all set to play for the Victorians.
Serving his 12-month ban, Smith has played in a couple of T20 leagues in his ban period. He featured in the Global T20 in Canada and also took part in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL). He also played grade cricket in Australia recently.
He seems to be a great addition to the team and he will be available from the second week of the tournament. Comilla Victorians will be hoping he can control the batting, coming in at number 3 and play the role of the anchor.
Dhaka Dynamites – Shakib Al Hasan
Shakib Al Hasan is undoubtedly one of the star players in the tournament and all eyes will be on the Bangladesh Test and T20I skipper. He has been in terrific form in recent times.
After coming back from injury, he’s been very consistent and has performed for the national side across formats. In the recent T20I series against the Windies, he was brilliant with both bat and ball.
The star all-rounder will play a crucial role with both bat and ball and will hope to lead from the front. He led the Dhaka Dynamites to the final last season but failed to cross the final hurdle as they ran into a rampaging Chris Gayle. However, Shakib will be keen on replicating last year’s campaign and this time, go all the way.
Rajshahi Kings - Mehidy Hasan
Mehidy Hasan is one of Bangladesh’s most improved cricketers over the last year or so. The off-spinning all-rounder has been a vital cog of the national team in all three formats and plays a key role.
In white-ball cricket, he has the ability to don various roles. He can take the new ball when required and can also get the job done in the middle overs. Moreover, he is also handy with the bat lower down the order.
Leading the Rajshahi Kings, he will be looking to put in some good performances and help the team to try and win their maiden BPL title.
Sylhet Sixers - Sandeep Lamichhane
The 18-year-old leg-spinner from Nepal has set the stage on fire in the recent past. Making his Big Bash (BBL) debut, he grabbed all the attention as he produced some magical spells, playing for the Melbourne Stars.
In the four games he played in Australia, Sandeep Lamichhane took eight wickets as the batsmen found it tough to read him. The Sylhet Sixers seem to be batting heavy and hence, Lamichhane will have to shoulder the responsibility in the spin department. The 18-year-old leggie will no doubt be a key part of the Sixers’ setup.
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Chittagong Vikings – Luke Ronchi
The retired New Zealand wicket-keeper has been performing consistently in the T20 leagues across the globe. At the top of the order, Ronchi has made it a habit of giving brisk starts and he was one of the standout performers for the Chittagong Vikings last season when he scored over 300 runs at a strike-rate of almost 170.
The 37-year-old has had a poor few matches in the T10 league and will be itching to start the new year with some good performances. The Vikings will bank on Ronchi to give them a solid foundation at the top of the order.
Khulna Titans – Mahmudullah
Mahmudullah has been around for over a decade now and is a vital cog of the Bangladesh middle-order. He’s in good touch with the ball as well as he seems to have found his mojo back. He took five wickets in three games against the Windies and also was quite handy with the bat.
In a rather inexperienced line-up, Mahmudullah will obviously be the key. Khulna Titans have never made it to the final of a BPL and hence, the 32-year-old will be keen to correct that record.