From the ground of BPL
Dhaka Dynamites succumbed to Gayle storm in Mirpur as Mashrafe marked his fourth championship in the Bangladesh Premiere League. Rangpur Riders emerged victorious, defeating the apparently strongest team in the final match of the tournament, held on December 12, 2017.
Starting the league with a squad consisting of big names such as Sangakara, Afridi, Narine and Amir, the Dynamites were no doubt the most daunting team, led by none other than the best all rounder in the world - Shakib Al Hasan. The first team to qualify for the final however, couldn't show their best on the day, and only managed to score 149, losing 9 wickets. Rangpur won by 57 runs and earned the champion's title for the first time in BPL history.
Playing in Dhaka, Dynamites had the home advantage but the crowd rooted for both teams. Having Mashrafe as the captain, Rangpur Riders were a fan-favourite not only to the people of Rangpur but also to the Dhaka residents. The cricket fans of Bangladesh love Mashrafe unconditionally and no matter what the team is everyone supports him for his impressive personality and performance.
In the final match, Rangpur lost the toss and had to bat first. The team stumbled to score runs after losing Charles early. However, they ultimately had a solid opening partnership as Gayle rained sixes and McCulum supported him till the end, reaching a massive total of 206. None of the bowlers of Dhaka succeeded and proved expensive. Amidst helpless bowlers, only Narine ended with a good economy. Although Shakib took the only wicket and bowled a maiden over, he too was hit over the fences in the 20th over.
Coming to bat, Dhaka Dynamites scored no run in the first two overs. To add to their plight, Rangpur bowlers took two wickets in these two maiden overs. Mashrafe had an auspicious beginning as opening bowler and Shohag Gazi also joined him with an impressive bowling spell. Losing the early wickets, Dhaka relied on Jahurul and Elvin Lewis who started batting aggressively to maintain the required run rate. But Lewis had to leave early; Caribbean hard-hitter, Pollard, also fell victim to Rubel.
The defending champions had still some hope as Shakib and Afridi were still to bat. But both the star players failed to carry on. Narine has surprisingly been seen in a batsman's role recently in IPL, and in BPL also. But coming to bat in an already lost match, he couldn't deliver much. Shohag Gazi took three wickets; Udana and Nazmul both had two wickets.
Rangpur Riders' wins throughout the BPL were hard-earned. Though they were not the toughest opponent, they had seen an impressive rhythm in the entire tournament as Gayle and McCulum performed regularly. Other players also contributed to the wins in different matches for Rangpur. With Mashrafe leading at the front, a balanced Rangpur team aced all the important matches beating Khulna, Comilla and finally Dhaka.
Throughout the tournament, Gayle just couldn't show his fullest with the bat, known as the 'Six-Machine-Gayle' in the T20 world. But who would know that he was saving his best for the right time. Needless to say, he can be the most dangerous man on the crease at times. In the first eliminator, the big man paved the way for his team all by himself. He was out early against Comilla after an injury, yet he showed his flame in the last game of the tournament.
Breaking all the records, Gayle has become the first player to score 11,000 runs in T-20 cricket. He scored 146, hitting 18 sixes making the record of both, highest sixes hit and runs made by an individual in a T-20 final. Gayle's opening with Charles and McCulum, helped the batting side effortlessly demolish the opponent's bowlers in their last three matches.
Mashrafe is always motivational for a team. His influence as a captain is once again acclaimed. Not only did he lead his team well and bowled tactfully, but also he showed us his other side as a batsman in the tournament. Playing for Bangladesh we enjoyed his cameos but here in BPL, the batsman Mashrafe ensured important wins as a finisher.
Mashrafe won all the BPL finals that he has played and under his lead Dhaka and Comilla previously relished the title. Now Rangpur savours the glory of a champion and Mashrafe adds to his statistics an impressive record as a captain.
The fifth edition of BPL thus pulls down its curtain by an electrifying final. The league is becoming popular every year but for Bangladesh, it is more about finding out the young and new potentials. We have had some terrific finds previously and this year too was a display of impeccable home talents competing with international players. If honed, groomed and utilized properly, these new cricketers can bring glory to the nation that we cherish for long.
The writer is studying at Department of Law, University of Dhaka