At least 21 members - players and supporting staff - of different teams tested positive for Covid-19 before the first ball was bowled in the eighth edition of the Bangabandhu Bangladesh Premier League (BPL). There has been no DRS and a few umpiring decisions have already raised eyebrows. The pitch in Mirpur continued to show its sluggishness, especially in the day games. Amid all these, the first Dhaka phase of the tournament has come to an end and the teams are heading to Chattogram where the proceedings will resume on 28 January.
Eight matches were played in the first Dhaka phase and currently, the Comilla Victorians are leading the points table with four points from two matches. Chattogram Challengers have the same number of points but they have played one game more. On the other hand, Minister Dhaka are staring down the barrel of a gun now, losing three out of their first four matches. They are now at the bottom of the table with two points from four games.
Pitch - a major talking point
Pitch and toss are always mighty important when it comes to playing at the Sher-E-Bangla National Cricket Stadium (SBNCS) in Mirpur. The teams have set a trend of winning the toss, fielding first and winning especially the day games. The pitch remains damp during the day and gets better as the day progresses. The bowlers, especially the spinners made good use of the dampness and found great success in the first phase.
113 was the average first innings score in the day games in the first phase which suggests that the bowlers had a clear advantage. On the other hand, 173 was the average first innings score in the night games. The pitch becomes easier for batting under lights and dew makes it difficult for the bowlers, the spinners in particular who had tremendous success in the day games. Cricketers like Anamul Haque criticised the pitch, tagging it 'not ideal' for T20 cricket.
Pace vs Spin - who won the battle?
In Bangladesh, more specifically in Mirpur, the spinners enjoy a great deal of success and it is not a ground generally where pacers enjoy the conditions. But it's slightly surprising that the number of wickets taken by the pacers (60) is more than the spinners (51) in the first phase. But it is mainly because of the preference of pacers during the slog overs. What is more important in T20 cricket is the economy rate.
Mosaddek Hossain, the part-time off-spinner, was the most economical bowler in the Dhaka phase with an economy of 2.75. Without any surprise, the number of spinners in the list of ten most economical bowlers is nine so far in the tournament. But it cannot be said that the spinners won the battle because the pacers too had a good time in terms of picking up wickets.
Minister Dhaka captain Mahmudullah was the highest run-getter in the Dhaka phase although his team could not win more than one match out of four. He scored 124 runs in four innings at a decent average (31) and strike rate (126.5). He is probably the only batter from his team with decent all-round numbers in batting. Second in the list is Chattogram Challengers' Benny Howell who scored 112 runs in three innings but most importantly his strike rate was 189.8. No batter had a better strike rate than him in the Dhaka phase. His prowess with the ball just adds value to his side.
Sylhet Sunrisers' Nazmul Islam Apu was the leading wicket-taker in the Dhaka phase. He followed his three for 17 in the first match with four for 18 in the second match. Chattogram captain Mehidy Hasan Miraz is the second name in the list with six wickets.
Mehidy's teammate Benny Howell hit seven sixes in the Dhaka phase, the most by anyone in the tournament so far.
Average first innings score:
Day games- 113
Night games - 173
By pacers - 60
By spinners - 51
112 - Benny Howell
105 - Tamim Iqbal
7- Nazmul Islam Apu
6- Mehidy Hasan Miraz
6- Shoriful Islam
Highest strike rate: Benny Howell - 189.8
Lowest economy rate: Mosaddek Hossain - 2.75