Finally, the Bangabandhu Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) T20 2019-20 has arrived to arguably the most beautiful cricket stadium in Bangladesh, Sylhet.
On Thursday, the Sylhet stage starts with the exact same match the Dhaka stage ended with, Rangpur Rangers and Rajshahi Royals. In the other match of the day, hosts Sylhet Thunder will face Cumilla Warriors.
Sylhet look for salvation, Cumilla looking for some hope
Sylhet Thunder have only managed to win one of their eight games and are loitering at the last position of the points table. They have no chance of reaching the playoffs but Cumilla still have the chance to do so. Cumilla have thus far won three of their eight games and if they manage to win all of their rest four games, they have a solid chance of qualifying.
Sylhet coach Herschelle Gibbs has already given up on any chance of reaching the playoffs and has asked the team to perform their best in the next four games. Gibbs said, "It's an opportunity, in the next four games, to be a hero. Obviously, we cannot make the playoffs anymore."
Gibbs was very disappointed with the local players as many of them did not understand English and he said that the communication gap was frustrating, "One of the biggest problems working with the local players is many of them don't understand English. So, it is very difficult for me to make them understand. This is very frustrating. When I talk, I see that they are listening. But I understand that they did not understand anything," the Protea opener stated.
Gibbs pulled out an example to explain the situation. He said, "Rubel Mia opened the batting that day (against Khulna Tigers). At a stage, he was on 14 off 28 deliveries. During the strategic timeout, I asked him on the field what was happening there. He just heard and nodded."
He further added, "This is a big example of not understanding the match situation. It's 2020 and if you still don't understand that you have to carry on if you have scored 14 off 25 or 28 deliveries to make up for it, then it is very frustrating. Maybe I had come here with a bit too much hope. Maybe I had way too much expectation, regarding the mentality of the local players."
Cumilla, on the other hand, will be high on morale after they clinched a nailbiting win against table-toppers Chattogram Challengers on the last of the Dhaka stage. They have managed to win three games in the tournament till now and another win against the hosts will ensure that Cumilla will still be in contention for the playoffs.
Rangpur seek double over Rajshahi
In the last match of the Dhaka stage, Rangpur Rangers managed to seal a convincing win over Rajshahi Royals by 47 runs.
Rangpur had managed only one win in their first five matches of the tournament but since their Australian skipper Shane Watson arrived, they seem to be a different team altogether. They have won both of their last two games and look in form.
On the other hand, Rajshahi had won five out of their first six games but suddenly their rhythm dropped and they lost two games on the trot to Dhaka Platoon and Rangpur Rangers. What would be more concerning for the Rajshahi management is not the consecutive defeats but the manner in which the defeats came as in both the matches, Rajshahi were completely dominated by their rivals.
A win for Rajshahi would mean that they would put a foot in the playoffs whereas a defeat for Rangpur might be the telling blow for them as they could be eliminated.
What to expect
Sylhet has been known for producing a batting-friendly wicket in the recent past and the small boundaries help the batsmen even more. Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) Women's Wing Chairman Shafiul Alam Chowdhury Nadel informed that the grass on the Sylhet turf was cultivated from seeds and it needed a bit of rain to be more friendly to the batsmen. But still, with the weather set to be sunny in the day game, a lot of runs is expected in the beautiful Sylhet International Cricket Stadium.