In the final episode of Tamim Iqbal's Facebook live show, there was a segment where renowned Bangladesh cricket coach Mohammad Salahuddin was brought.
Asked to talk about the unprecedented success low-weights Comilla Victorians tasted in its debut season, the team's the then head coach Salahuddin revealed the turning point of their campaign:
" We lost very badly against Dhaka (Dynamites) in our first match. Then that night, I, Mashrafe, Nafisa (the team's owner) gathered together and had a long chat. Everyone was sad. After chatting for a long time, at 5 am, Mashrafe told me that nothing can't be done with this team and asked me to move him up the batting order at no.3 in the next match."
" The next match was against Chittagong (Vikings). They posted a big total. I sent Mashrafe at no.3. Tamim (Chittagong's captain at that time) made a mistake and we exploited that mistake. He used up all his main bowlers while Mashrafe was batting. And afterward, Mashrafe won us the match. After that we got a flow in our team and gradually started to do well."
Salahuddin's quotes were indeed true. The veteran was given the duty to manage Comilla Victorians, a ragged T20 team by all means, in it's inaugural BPL season. The likes of Imrul Kayes, Shuvagoto Hom, Mahmudul Hasan, Alok Kapali, Ashar Zaidi, Darren Stevens were never T20 superstars. Mashrafe himself was no more than an aging inspirational leader with a declining pace.
To make matters worse, the only T20 globetrotters they had - Sunil Narine and Marlon Samuels, had to leave mid-season due to getting banned and national team call-up respectively.
Comilla, on paper, had by far the worst team in the BPL and it was evident in their first league game against Dhaka Dynamites.
Batting first, Comilla managed to score only 110/8 in 20 overs and succumbed to a heavy defeat and were trolled everywhere as an unfit team for the shortest format.
However, as Salahuddin pointed out on Tamim's show, things took a U-turn when Mashrafe decided to lead from the front.
In the second match of their campaign, Comilla faced Chittagong Vikings who posted a huge 176/4 batting first. It seemed like more misery is awaiting the Victorians. But, in the end, it was the Victorians who literally came out as victorious.
In 7.2 overs, Comilla found themselves in tatters at 54/3. They still needed 123 from 76 balls. The next 3 batsmen to come were Alok Kapali, Mahmudul Hasan and Ashar Zaidi who had T20 strike rates of
104.10, 82.87 (!), and 136.71 respectively. Comilla was done for the day.
But, to everyone's surprise, the Narail Express came charging down the Sher-e-Bangla stadium dressing room with a bloodlust of destroying bowlers' economy rate.
He raced off to 56 off 32 and provided a platform for Marlon Samuels to bide his time and accumulate the runs. On his way, he dispatched Pakistani star Saeed Ajmal twice out of the park and hit the finishing boundary off speedster Mohammad Amir.
The game was a real turning point for Comilla Victorians who'd later go on to clinch the title in an unbelievable fashion through passion and wit.
BPL was previously won by Dhaka Gladiators, a posh team from the capital who used to invest heavily to put up a star-studded lineup. Comilla was a glorious exception to that. They were really the " Oakland Athletics " of the BPL.