Bangladesh Premier League Review
By Ronan Alexander
It was probably expected that the Bangladesh Premier League would be a weird competition and it certainly lived up to that. Comilla Victorians were crowned champions for a record fourth time, after losing their opening three matches, they went on to win 11 consecutive games to leave with the trophy. Sylhet Strikers, Rangpur Riders and Fortune Barishal were the other three sides to make the play-offs, and all four of them will feel they could’ve won the tournament. Outside of them, there was a clear divide as the other three sides were quite frankly terrible. Khulna Tigers were a bit unlucky losing several narrow games but in all honesty didn’t do enough to make the top four. Dhaka Dominators and Chattogram Challengers were just very bad, which we’ll go in to.
The preparations for the tournament seemed rushed, sparked controversy with Shakib Al-Hasan stating how the competition needed fixed and the matches were reported to not be as well attended as previous years. Clashing with ILT20 and SA20 didn’t help with the interest from outside Bangladesh in the tournament or recruitment, which was sporadic to say the least. Remarkably, 74 overseas players were used, Rangpur Riders having 16 players from abroad representing them in 14 games. Several players seemed to just appear from nowhere for a game or two and then leave. It made the tournament hard to follow, difficult to connect with teams and left those more regular overseas players who played more matches harshly left out at the back end of the tournament. Of the 74 players used, many of them were below par picks or misused by their teams.
Another talking point was the shocking DRS set-up which basically consisted of slow-motion replays rather than proper ball tracking and hawk-eye information. This obviously didn’t sit well with players, including Soumya Sarkar refusing to accept a decision in match three, meaning player conduct was poor, but to be honest sometimes justified. It was a bit of a shambles. Below demonstrates that as Jaker Ali reviews an LBW decision where the ball pitched outside leg but doesn’t get overturned.
Matches took place as double headers, making for Day/Night and Night games. Throughout the tournament, chasing was the best option.
There were a higher percentage of games won by teams chasing in the night game. In the 22 day games, 9 were won batting first and 13 chasing. In the 24 night games, 9 were won batting first and 15 chasing. However, it was easier to bat during the night matches, which saw much higher scores than the day games as well as that increased percentage of totals being chased. During the day games, the average first innings score was 151. In the night matches, this increased to 164.
Team Batting Stats
Fortune Barishal were the most aggressive batting side, boasting the highest strike rate, boundary percentage and fewest balls per six. Sylhet were the best strike rotators whilst Comilla were the most stable side with the highest average, most balls per dismissal and performed above average in each metric. Dhaka performed the worst in every single metric, only going at just over a run-a-ball and a boundary percentage of 12 whilst only hitting a six once every 5 overs. Chattogram also failed to make average in any stat.
Team Bowling Stats
Comilla were the standout side with the ball, boasting the best record in every metric. Despite having a poor tournament, Dhaka performed above average in each stat but as stated above, being the worst batting team made their bowling numbers almost redundant. Sylhet also impressed with the ball, Rangpur ranked 4th out of 7 teams in 4 out of 5 metrics. Despite being so strong with the bat, Fortune Barishal couldn’t back it up with the ball, ranking last or second last in each bowling metric. Chattogram were also predictably bad.
After a third-place finish last time round, this campaign was dreadful. Awful planning and weird tactics saw Chattogram finish bottom of the table. The coach arrived two days before the tournament, players weren’t used in their strongest/most familiar roles, they performed below average in every single metric and they were just really poor. From an overseas recruitment perspective, their signings didn’t set the world alight, but could have been ok if used correctly. Darwish Rasooli opened to begin with despite being a middle order spin hitter, Usman Khan began at number six despite being an opener. Unmukt Chand played as a specialist number 7 with Max O’Dowd out the team and Vijayanth Viyaskanth found himself on the bench behind Malinda Pushpakumara despite taking 13 wickets (the most for a spinner) in the Lanka Premier League. Pushpakumara, also a spinner, didn’t even get selected for the LPL. Unless Viyaskanth was injured or hadn’t arrived, the selection was strange. A terrible season from start to finish and how a team at this level can be so tactically poor baffles me. On a positive note, Afif Hossain had another impressive campaign, scoring 344 runs @38 with a strike rate of 128 although he struggled to hit sixes as regularly.
After losing their opening three games, Comilla went on to win their remaining 9 league matches and two knockout games to clinch the title. They had the best crop of overseas players, including Mohammad Rizwan, Sunil Narine, Andre Russell, Moeen Ali, Johnson Charles, Khushdil Shah, Naseem Shah, Fazalhaq Farooqi and Dawid Malan. They built a stable base, only losing more than two wickets in the powerplay once whilst having the second best run rate in this phase, whilst performing above average in all batting and bowling metrics. All in all, a nicely balanced side with a good crop of local bowlers as well as Liton Das and youngster Jaker Ali in the batting unit.
An absolutely abysmal showing with the bat was the downfall of the Dhaka side who only won 3 out of 12 matches. Remarkably, of 21 players who batted for them, only 5 achieved a strike rate above 100 which is quite frankly absolutely terrible. Nasir Hossain had an excellent tournament with bat and ball. He scored 366 runs, striking at 120 and claimed 16 wickets, whilst Usman Ghani made 227 runs @32.4 whilst striking at 118. Outside of that, they were awful. The lowest scoring team by far. They only scored 150+ four times, but only won once in those matches. With the ball, they performed well as four players reached double figures for wickets. Recruitment wise in the overseas department, they used 8 players. For me, only Ghani and Salman Irshad get close to pass marks. The latter looked like a smart addition, but he would’ve been aiming to do better than 5 wickets @30.2 in his 5 games. In summary, scoring at 6.25RPO and only achieving a boundary percentage of 12 means that you are going to fail badly no matter what.
The most volatile side in the tournament and arguably played the most exciting brand of cricket. Tipped as one of the front runners for BPL 2023, Barishal hit a poor run of form at the wrong time, losing three of their last four league matches before falling short in the eliminator, making for a fourth place finish. They were by far the best 6 hitting team, as Iftikhar Ahmed (23) and Shakib Al Hasan (22) topped the six hitting charts. Amanul Haque and Karim Janat also hit 13 sixes each, as the latter had a fantastic tournament. Despite scoring boundaries regularly, they struggled to prevent them as only Chattogram were worse than Barishal in this department.
Ultimately a poor campaign from Khulna, although they were the most unlucky side. They lost three matches in the final over and another by only four runs. On another day, they win at least two of those four narrowly contested matches. Although even if they did, they still would not have qualified and only a victory on the final match of the league phase saved them from a bottom of the table finish. Azam Khan seemed like a one man band with the bat, even his maiden T20 ton wasn’t enough to get them a victory. Shai Hope’s addition bolstered their boundary hitting and Wahab Riaz had a good competition with 13 wickets and going at under 7 RPO. After a fantastic tournament last season that earned him a Bangladesh call-up, Munim Shahriar had a disaster of a tournament. He only made 28 runs in 4 innings. Him and Tamin Iqbal made for an exciting opening partnership on paper, but Shahriar’s poor form wasn’t helped as Sharjeel Khan only managed 24 runs in 3 innings as Iqbal struggled to find contributions from his opening partner.
A third place finish as Rangpur had a good tournament, particularly Afghanistan overseas all-rounder Azmatullah Omarzai who earned himself a deal with Peshawar Zalmi off the back of the BPL. He grabbed 15 wickets, with his swing and seam in the powerplay particularly impressing. Hasan Mahmud also took 17 wickets, the joint most alongside Tanvir Islam of Comilla. The only metric they performed better than the majority of other teams though was balls per six, as the Riders finished 4th in 6 out of 11 metrics tracked. They did excel in the powerplay, taking wickets more regularly than anyone else and having the second best powerplay economy rate.
The league phase winners and overall tournament runners-up had a good campaign with positive signs for the future. Most notably their opening partnership. 24-year-old Najmul Hossain Shanto was the tournaments top run scorer with 516 runs @39.7. He anchored the innings nicely, striking at 116.7 whilst his opening partner Towhid Hridoy (22) showed more intent, striking at 140.4 as he amassed 403 runs @36.6. Mushfiqur Rahim and Zakir Hasan added value in the middle order to make a strong local core of a batting unit. Thisara Perera again proved to be an excellent finisher. The Strikers also had a good bowling attack which were excellent at limiting run scoring and boundaries. This included Rubel Hossain, Rejaur Rahman, Mohammad Amir and Imad Wasim.
Powerplay deep dive
Comilla were the best team across the board in the powerplay, performing as a top 2 side across all 5 metrics. Dhaka were awful with the bat, going at under a run-a-ball, although their bowling economy was the best. Rangpur Riders were potent with the ball, having the best strike rate as they took more wickets than anyone else in the first six overs. Barishal continued their theme of high intent with the best batting scoring rate.
Mehidy Hasan Miraz was the only batter to achieve a strike rate of above 140 and only five other achieved over 130. There was a real lack of high intent opening batters both domestically and overseas. With there being several low scoring encounters teams should look at recruiting some high intent openers from overseas as a quick cameo can really change a game.
Dots missing labels:
Left of Tamim Iqbal: Mohammad Mithun
Left of Usman Ghani: Mohammad Rizwan
Dots missing labels:
Left of Salman Irshad: Imad Wasim
Right of Salman Irshad: Mohammad Saifuddin
Below Shuvagata Hom: Rakibul Hasan
Omarzai fantastic, 13 of his 15 tournament wickets came in the powerplay. Taskin Ahmed was excellent, a rare positive for Dhaka Dominators.
Strike Rate v Balls per dismissal
Shakib Al Hasan really upped his gears this tournament and is the only player who faced over 100 balls to strike above 170. Towhid Hridoy and Mushfiqur Rahim are the only local players in the ideal top right corner. The Pakistan middle order trio of Khushdil Shah, Iftikhar Ahmed and Azam Khan all had great tournaments.
Boundary % v Balls per six
Four standout batters in the bottom right corner. Will be interesting to see if Shakib maintains this type of intent for Bangladesh and in other leagues. 24-year-old Jaker Ali’s six hitting was nice, as he struck six 4’s and 11 6’s in the tournament. Didn’t include Mohammad Naim in the graph as he hit a six every 65 balls and it just made the rest of the graph messy.
Strike Rate v Economy
Taskin Ahmed with the best economy rate. Amir, Wahab & Omarzai all impressed.
Players with labels missing for their dot:
Next to Mustafizur Rahman: Mohammad Saifuddin
Right of Mortaza: Hasan Mahmud
Above Mukidul Islam: Mohammad Wasim
Furthest to the right: Kamrul Islam Rabbi
Plenty of domestic spinners on show, with 5 in the ideal bottom left corner. Only Imad Wasim from the overseas contingent in here, with his fantastic economy rate and bowling a lot of overs in the powerplay.
Team of the tournament
Honourable mentions: Mohammad Rizwan, Johnson Charles, Iftikhar Ahmed, Rejaur Raman, Taskin Ahmed, Mushfiqur Rahim, Liton Das.
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