The forthcoming Bangabandhu T20 Cup is going to be a very significant tournament for many reasons. Competitive cricket returned to the country through the three-team BCB President's Cup after a long hiatus. But the Bangabandhu T20 Cup is going to be arranged on a larger scale with an increased number of teams participating. Most importantly, the return of international cricket to Bangladesh will largely depend on the success of the tournament.
The BCB President's Cup had only 45 cricketers participating and a lot of competent cricketers, unfortunately, missed out. It was more of a practice tournament. But 80 cricketers are going to play for the five teams in the Bangabandhu T20 Cup, making the tournament more exciting. Since the important slots are mostly obtained by the overseas players in the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL), this tournament will be a great platform for all the cricketers to prove their mettle.
The Business Standard (TBS) looks at the teams participating in the tournament and try to identify their strengths and weaknesses.
Despite having Mushfiqur Rahim and Rubel Hossain in the squad, Beximco Dhaka are a relatively younger side and have to count on the young guns to deliver the goods. They will expect youngsters Naim Sheikh and Tanzid Hasan Tamim to give a blistering start in the powerplay. Both of them were in sublime form with the bat in the T20 games in the High-Performance Camp. The Dhaka-based side have a couple of clean strikers in the form of Sabbir Rahman and Yasir Ali in the middle order to provide support to Mushfiqur Rahim.
They have quite an excellent and diverse bowling attack led by the seasoned campaigner Rubel Hossain. He will be partnered by Mehedi Hasan Rana and Abu Hider, two of the proven performers of the BPL. They will enjoy the services of the spin duo of Nayeem Hasan and Nasum Ahmed as well, making the bowling line-up quite formidable. Beximco Dhaka will be coached by Khaled Mahmud Sujon, one of the greatest and most successful local coaches in the circuit. His experience and knowledge about the strengths and weaknesses of the opponents will certainly be something that the other teams will be wary of. However, they might struggle at the back end of the innings with the bat as Sabbir Rahman, their designated finisher, is not in the greatest of forms. He along with the batsmen in the late middle order have to come good if Dhaka want to progress further in the tournament.
Team: Mushfiqur Rahim (c), Rubel Hossain, Tanzid Hasan Tamim, Nasum Ahmed, Naim Sheikh, Nayeem Hasan, Shahadat Dipu, Akbar Ali, Yasir Ali, Sabbir Rahman, Mehedi Rana, Muktar Ali, Shafiqul Islam, Abu Hider, Pinak Ghosh, Robiul Islam Robi.
The cricket fans throughout the country will keep a very close eye on Gemcon Khulna as Shakib Al Hasan, who is all set to return to cricket after a one-year suspension, is going to play for them. On paper, the Mahmudullah-led side is one of the strongest in the teams as they have the likes of Imrul Kayes, Anamul Haque, Shakib Al Hasan, and Mahmudullah Riyad in the batting line-up. Consistent domestic performers like Shuvagata Hom and Ariful Haque are also there.
Khulna have a strong bowling line-up as well with experienced fast bowlers like Shafiul Islam and Al-Amin Hossain leading the pace battery. The raw pace of Hasan Mahmud can prove handy for the side too. Shakib will be there to look after the spin bowling department and he will be supported by Nazmul Hossain Apu and young wrist-spinner Rishad Hossain. Khulna are the most experienced of all the sides in the tournament.
Leading the side will be Mahmudullah Riyad, who is currently the skipper of Bangladesh's national cricket team for T20Is and has the previous experience of leading BPL sides from the front. He will find an ally on Shakib Al Hasan who will be eager to regain his form and start from where he left off. But like most of the sides, the lack of a designated finisher can be a cause of concern for them. Skipper Mahmudullah will expect Shuvagata Hom and Ariful Haque to fire in the late middle order.
Team: Mahmudullah (c), Shakib Al Hasan, Imrul Kayes, Hasan Mahmud, Al-Amin Hossain, Anamul Haque, Shamim Patwary, Ariful Haque, Shoriful Islam, Shuvagata Hom, Shahidul Islam, Rishad Hossain, Zakir Hasan, Nazmul Apu, Salman Hossain, Jahurul Islam.
Gazi Group Chattogram
Coached by Mohammad Salahuddin, one of the shrewdest tacticians in Bangladesh, Gazi Group Chattogram are definitely a side to watch out for. They don't have anyone from the celebrated 'fab five' on the side but the presence of some very effective cricketers for the shortest form of the game has made them a dangerous unit. They have roped in Liton Das and Soumya Sarkar who will make an explosive opening pair.
Skipper Mohammad Mithun, who is a prolific middle-order batsman, will be well-supported by Mosaddek Hossain. As per Salahuddin, rather than going for big names, went for players who can change the course of the game in a jiffy. One such player is Ziaur Rahman and Chattogram will expect him to give powerful finishes to the innings with his clean striking. Mohammad Mithun will enjoy the service of Mustafizur Rahman who is one of the finest T20 bowlers in the world currently especially at the back end. But despite having a good spin bowling attack, the lack of an established fast bowler to partner Mustafizur will be a cause of concern for them. Young Shoriful Islam has shown that he is a capable bowler. But it will be a pretty tough job for the youngster, especially at the death.
Team: Mohammad Mithun (c), Mustafizur Rahman, Liton Das, Soumya Sarkar, Mosaddek Hossain, Shoriful Islam, Ziaur Rahman, Taijul Islam, Shamsur Rahman, Nahidul Islam, Shykat Ali, Mominul Haque, Rakibul Hasan, Sanjit Saha, Mahmudul Hasan Joy, Mehadi Hasan.
Minister Group Rajshahi
The Rajshahi-based team is not the most star-studded one but certainly has some utility cricketers. Led by the youngster Najmul Hossain Shanto, the side is without any A grade cricketer. The presence of Mohammad Ashraful on the side will make the fans keep an eye on Rajshahi. Ashraful, who last played international cricket in 2013 and was subsequently banned by the ICC, will be eager to make a statement in the tournament and stamp his authority yet again.
Coach Sarwar Imran has to rely on the likes of Rony Talukdar, Mohammad Ashraful, Fazle Mahmud, and Nurul Hasan Sohan to perform with the bat. Farhad Reza and Mahedi Hasan, two effective cricketers for the shortest format, will add a lot of value to the side.
Mohammad Saifuddin, the pacer bowling all-rounder will be the X-Factor for the team as he can finish the innings strongly with both the bat and the ball and is brilliant with the new ball. He will be partnered by Mukidul Islam Mugdho in the pace bowling attack. Anisul Islam Emon, the seam-bowling all-rounder may well be the find of the tournament if he is able to contribute and complement Mohammad Saifuddin. They don't have the strongest batting line-up and therefore, the bowlers need to step up and make the difference.
Team: Najmul Hossain Shanto (c), Mohammad Saifuddin, Mahedi Hasan, Nurul Hasan, Farhad Reza, Mohammad Ashraful, Arafat Sunny, Ebadot Hossain, Fazle Mahmud, Rony Talukdar, Anisul Emon, Rezaur Rahman, Jaker Ali, Rokibul Hasan, Mukidul Islam, Sunzamul Islam.
Tamim Iqbal, the skipper of Fortune Barishal, was visibly displeased with the squad and remarked that the team made a few errors while picking players in the draft. Among batsmen, apart from Tamim himself, only Afif Hossain Dhrubo has played for the national team. So they have to depend hugely on the likes of young Towhid Hridoy and Mahidul Islam Angkon. But as Tamim said, players who are not so hyped can make a big impact.
Irfan Sukkur, who was a relatively unfamiliar name just a couple of months ago, shot to fame after having a stellar BCB President's Cup. If he can replicate that performance, then it will do a world of good to the confidence of Tamim.
But the bowling line-up of the side is definitely one of the best, if not the best in the tournament, both on paper and according to the recent performances. Sumon Khan, the find of the BCB President's cup will play for Barishal along with Taskin Ahmed, who seems to have regained his long-lost mojo. These two along with Abu Jayed Rahi will make a formidable pace trio and they will be ably supported by Mehidy Hasan, Aminul Islam Biplob, and Sohrawardi Shuvo- three different types of spinners. If they can perform as expected, they can very well be the dark horses of the tournament.
Team: Tamim Iqbal (c), Afif Hossain, Taskin Ahmed, Irfan Sukkur, Mehidy Hasan, Abu Jayed, Towhid Hridoy, Tanvir Islam, Sumon Khan, Saif Hassan, Aminul Islam Biplob, Mahidul Angkon, Parvez Hossain Emon, Kamrul Islam, Abu Sayem, Sohrawardi Shuvo.