The pitches in Chattogram came as a blessing to the 2019-20 BPL as high-scoring games brought a welcome change to the tournament. Only three teams won after batting first in Chattogram, with few of the successful chasing sides not even needing to reach the last over to win games. Here are the highlights from the second week.
Rajshahi, Dhaka closing in on Chattogram
The Chattogram Challengers still lead with five wins from seven games but the Rajshahi Royals and Dhaka Platoon are just two points below them having played fewer matches.
Rajshahi won both their games in Dhaka and started their Chattogram leg poorly when they lost to the Khulna Tigers, but they bounced back in the next two games. Captain Andre Russell’s four-wicket haul helped them to a seven-wicket win over Khulna in the return encounter, which were strangely back-to-back games. Liton Das and Afif Hossain struck a fifty each in these two wins, before Ravi Bopara and Russell muscled seven fours and two sixes between them in their successful chase of 171 against the Camilla Warriors.
Dhaka, meanwhile, are just below Rajshahi in net run rate, but are picking up pace. Tamim Iqbal has been their lynchpin with important runs and Mominul Haque and Mahedi Hasan have already played match-winning hands. Mahedi’s batting at No. 3 has been a revelation, hitting fifties with 200-plus strike rates and smashing 10 sixes in those two innings.
ZACS comes to BPL’s rescue
Like in previous seasons, the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chattogram helped out the BPL’s dull start by producing excellent pitches. Three 200-plus totals and an average of 178 per innings for sides batting first at the ground raised the playing quality of the tournament quite impressively.
The Chattogram ground provided one of the bare necessities of a T20 tournament – pitches that offered pace and bounce for both batsmen and bowlers – as well as some close contests. It ensured bigger crowds than Dhaka, and rammed home the point that the BCB must think a little wider when planning the BPL.
Batsman of the week
Dawid Malan ended the Chattogram phase with a superb century against Rajshahi, but ended up becoming only the third batsman in BPL history to score a hundred in a losing cause. He has so far scored 300 runs in six matches, striking at 156.25, which should be noticed by the England selectors as part of Malan’s progress in T20s, particularly in the subcontinent. But for all that he has done, Malan alone hasn’t been able to force the issue as Cumilla have picked up only two wins out of six games and are placed third from bottom.
Bowler of the week
Mehedi Hasan Rana continues to be the best bowler of the competition, having picked up a second four-for to not only help Chattogram stay atop the points table, but also keep himself ahead of everyone in the wicket-takers’ list. Rana’s impressive showing has also cast a bit of light among the younger lot of Bangladeshi pace bowlers as the likes of Hasan Mahmud (Dhaka), Shahidul Islam (Khulna) and Sumon Khan (Comilla) have been picked by their sides.
Usually, Bangladeshi domestic sides have been more interested in employing left-arm spinners than pace bowlers but it has opened up a whole new side to Bangladesh’s pace bowling stocks. The likes of Ebadat Hossain and Taskin Ahmed, therefore, must improve themselves quickly if they are to stay in the reckoning for a longer period.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84
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