All the preparations are done and the three-team one day tournament called the 'President's Cup' is going to be underway on Sunday. Despite the tournament not being an international one, there will be no shortage of competition. The way cricketers were training the day before the start of the tournament suggested that they were all up for it.
The Mahmudullah XI will lock horns with the Nazmul XI in the curtain raiser of the tournament. The match will start at 1.30 pm at the Sher-E-Bangla National Cricket Stadium and it is going to be the first competitive cricket match here in eight months.
The Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) is trying to make the tournament as attractive as it can despite the competition not being a regular one. An opening ceremony will also take place before the start of the match. Nazmul Hassan Papon, the BCB president will inaugurate the tournament releasing balloons and pigeons. The trophy and the jerseys were unveiled on Saturday in presence of the skippers of the three teams.
The matches of the group stage will be streamed live on Facebook. The final of the tournament will be televised. The champion team of the tournament will be awarded a prize money of BDT 15 lakhs while the team coming second will get BDT 7.5 lakhs. Apart from that, the best batsman, bowler and fielder of the tournament will be rewarded handsomely. In total, the BCB is going to spend about BDT 36.75 lakhs in the tournament.
The cricketers are very excited to return to competitive cricket after a long hiatus. Mahmudullah Riyad, who is captaining one of the teams in the tournament, said, "It's a great feeling. We have trained all these days. But now competitive cricket is going to restart. At the end of the day, that's what we do and that's what we love. So, it's great to be back."
Mahmudullah mentioned that his team will compete to win the tournament. "Obviously I expect the team to be the champion. Most importantly, the most experienced cricketers as well as the most promising youngsters are there in the team. It's a great opportunity to compete among ourselves and prove our mettle," said Mahmudullah.
"The team is really good. It's a great side, from top to bottom. The top order, middle and late middle order as well as the spinning and pace bowling units are fantastic. I reckon it's a very balanced side," he added.
Nazmul Hossain Shahto, captaining the Nazmul XI, is also expecting an excellent tournament. The youngster remarked, "We have never been away from cricket for so many days before. I am really thrilled to get back to cricket through such a tournament. I think it will be a competitive series. All the teams are great. We will obviously play for the championship. If we can play our natural game, I think we can do well."
Like Mahmudullah, Nazmul is also satisfied with the team he is going to lead. "Overall we are a great side. The positive thing about us is that there are a number of youngsters. That's why we are a pretty good fielding side. I believe that we will do well in all three departments," Nazmul mentioned.
The youngster is particularly delighted to have Mushfiqur Rahim in his side. "It's great to have him in the team. He can influence the team big time in a positive way. We have a great expectation from him. We all know how dedicated he is to the game."
Tamim Iqbal's side will take on the Mahmudullah XI on the 13th. The ODI captain of Bangladesh believes that the team led by him will be the champions. "Since we are one of the teams participating in the tournament, we have our eyes on the trophy. But the team that plays well on the field will be the champions," Tamim mentioned.
The veteran cricketer is slightly disappointed because of the fact that the matches will be played at empty stadiums. "I'll definitely miss the spectators. We don't get to play such tournaments regularly. We have packed international schedules. We don't often play such tournaments. If the situation was normal, the spectators would enjoy the tournament, surely. But I heard that the matches will be telecast live. I hope that the fans will enjoy the action from home," said Tamim.
The BCB has appointed separate coaching staff for the teams as well. Ottis Gibson is the head coach of the Mahmudullah XI and he'll be assisted by Saiful Islam. Nasir Ahmed will manage the side while Julian Calefato will carry out the responsibility of the physio and Nicholas Lee will be the trainer.
Ryan Cook is to be the head coach of the Tamim XI and Mizanur Rahman is going to assist him. Sabbir Khan will be the manager of Tamim's men. Bayezidul Islam will be the physio of the side with Iftekharul Islam being the trainer.
Nazmul XI will be coached by Toby Radford, the head coach of the High Performance (HP) team, after he finishes his quarantine period on arrival to Bangladesh. For now Jafrul Ehsan will be the head coach of the Nazmul XI. Golam Murtaza will carry out the responsibility of the assistant coach. Khademul Islam and Tushar Kanti Hawlader will be the physio and trainer respectively. Jamal Uddin will be the manager of the Nazmul XI.