Thursday 23, March 2023

Another journey of drama and controversy

Like its past seven editions, the eighth iteration of the Bangabandhu Bangladesh Premier League was full of drama, controversy and action.

Eventually, the 2022 BPL ended on a good note as an action-packed, high-intensity encounter was witnessed at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur yesterday as Comilla Victorians, led by Imrul Kayes, triumphed over Shakib Al Hasan's Fortune Barishal in the final, winning by a solitary run against the odds.

The nail-biting finish was fitting for the tournament and the format of the game, designed to deliver sheer entertainment. At climax, needing to defend ten runs off the last over, and three off the last ball, Comilla's pacer Shohidul Islam pulled off a successful one as Barishal were restricted at 150 for eight after 20 overs while trying to surpass Comilla's total of 151 for nine in 20 overs.

It all started with low and slow surfaces at Mirpur, which maintained its reputation for producing low-scoring affairs. Interestingly, the night games in the first leg of the tournament in Mirpur produced fighting totals but day games produced low-scoring encounters. Among them, the lowest total cane when Sylhet Sunrisers folded for just 96 runs against Comilla Victorians, who eventually chased down the target for the loss of eight wickets.

However, excitement began to soar in the Chattogram leg, which saw the first 200-plus total posted by hosts Chattogram Challengers against Sylhet. In the same gane, fans were treated to the eighth edition's first hattrick from young left-arm seamer Mrittunjoy Chowdhury.

The first hundred of the tournament was also registered in Chattogram by Sylhet opener Lendl Simmons. However, Minister Dhaka opener and Bangladesh's ODI skipper Tamim Iqbal overpowered Sylhet with his own century to lead his side to a nine-wicket win.

This edition of the BPL was also significant in terms of performances from local cricketers.

Mrittunjoy remained among the top wicket-takers, picking up 15 wickets from eight games while Fortune Barishal opener Munim Shahriar showed great promise with his big-hitting ability and his fearless attitude caught the eyes of the selectors.

Mustafizur Rahman also remained instrumental for Comilla and was on top of the wicket-takers list, but it was star all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan who stole the show with all-round performances for Barishal.

Shakib created history by picking up five consecutive man of the match awards following impressive performances with with bat and ball while also leading Barishal from the front as they cruised to the final.

Barishal ended the group stage on top of the points table while Comilla finished at second to confirm qualifier spots. Chattogram and Khulna secured playoff berths in their final group stage games.

Despite a star-studded side that had the likes of Mahmudullah Riyad, Tamim and Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, Dhaka ended the tournament in disappointing manner, unable to make it to the playoffs.

As for controversy, the Mehedi Hasan Miraz saga was prominent. After captaining Chattogram for the first four games, he was replaced by Naeem Islam just hours before the start of the fifth game.

Miraz then decided to leave the franchise and even left the team hotel and was set to return to Dhaka, creating a huge uproar . However, following negotiations between the franchise, BCB and Miraz, the drama came to a conclusion.

Meanwhile, Sylhet were also surrounded by controversy regarding their change in captains and strange decisions from the team management. Sylhet's team selection and performances kept raising questions throughout the tournament and they ended up winning just one game in the end.

Shakib, not one to shy after controversy, also drummed some up after not showing up at the photo session ahead of the final, which was supposed to feature the captains of the finalists. As it turned out, Shakib was involved at a different photoshoot, related to an advertisement, raisiny many eyebrows as it was also a possible breach of the bio-secure bubble protocols.

However, BCB physician Monjur Chowdhury informed that Shakib came back to the hotel and maintained protocols properly, also returning a negative test and then participating in the final.

  • Comilla Victorians cricketer Sunil Narine became player-of-the-final for his brilliant allrounder performance…. 57 off 23 balls and 4-0-15-2.
  • Player-of-the-tournament: Shakib Al Hasan (284 runs and 16 wickets in 11 matches) 
  • Most runs: William George Jacks (414 runs in 11 matches).
  • Most wickets: Mustafizur Rahman (19 wickets in 11 matches)