As the Bangabandhu Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) T20 2019-20 enters its last stage, the points table has started to take shape. Chattogram Challengers and Rajshahi Royals have ensured their place in the playoffs whereas Sylhet Thunder are already out of contention. The other four teams - Khulna Tigers, Dhaka Platoon, Cumilla Warriors and Rangpur Rangers are still in contention for a place in the playoffs and will be fighting in Dhaka to secure one.
The first match of the third Dhaka stage will see Cumilla fight against Sylhet whereas Rajshahi will face Chattogram for the top spot.
Battle for the top
Chattogram and Rajshahi have been the most consistent sides in this BPL as they have won seven out of their 10 games, notching up 14 points. Both teams look on song and Chattogram have now added up to their firepower as the Caribbean power-hitter Chris Gayle has finally joined their camp.
There were controversies regarding Gayle's recruitment as the Caribbean said earlier in 2019 that he did not know how his name ended up in the BPL draft. But finally after all the controversies, the man tagged as the 'Universal Boss' has arrived in BPL and Chattogram will hope that he will be able to help the side stay on top.
Rajshahi, on the other hand, have a slight injury concern as their skipper Andre Russell has missed their last two games with a niggle. Shoaib Malik has stood in for Russell as skipper and with two wins at Sylhet, Rajshahi both have the momentum and a playoff spot.
Rajshahi's biggest advantage is their opening pair of Liton Das and Afif Hossain, who have regularly took them off to a flying start and been crucial to their success. Another of their team's advantage is their flurry of all-rounders, which gives the captain a lot of options during fielding. For example, even without Afif bowling, Rajshahi used eight bowlers in their game against Sylhet.
The winner of the game will go on top with a two points lead and pretty surely confirm one of the first two positions to have two opportunities to reach the final, and both sides are surely eyeing that.
Cumilla hopes to keep playoff hopes alive
The previous tie between Cumilla and Sylhet had produced the most thrilling encounter of the current BPL as the match had rolled into a super over, where Cumilla reigned victorious.
Fans would hope for such a nailbiting affair again but Sylhet would hope that they can finish the tournament with a win. They have lost 10 out of their 11 games and sit rock bottom of the points table. They have a lot of controversies going and will hope to end the tournament on a high note.
Cumilla, on the other hand, have won four of their nine games and still have a chance of qualification. They have won their last two games and three wins from the last three games will surely take them to the playoffs.
Cumilla will have an advantage as their skipper Dawid Malan has returned for them. Malan has been the most prolific batsman this time around as he has scored 377 runs at an average of 62.
Cumilla will hope for a victory and so will Sylhet, but with Sylhet's current form, a win for the Thunders look highly unlikely.