BPL teams await foreign stars

Rajshahi Kings’ Soumya Sarkar (L) and Mustafizur Rahman (C) share a light moment with Comilla Victorians’ Tamim Iqbal (R) during the break of a training session at the National Academy Cricket Ground in Mirpur on Wednesday. — New Age photo

Most of the franchises of Bangladesh Premier League started their preparations for the sixth edition of the tournament in full swing on Wednesday and were waiting for their foreign players and coaching staff to join soon to give it a momentum.
Apart from reigning champions Rangpur Riders and Khulna Titans, all other franchises have already begun their training camps with their local recruits under the supervision of local coaches.
The foreign players and coaching staff also started arriving and some were expected to join the training with their respective franchises today.
Rangpur’s head coach Tom Moody, Khulna’s head coach Mahela Jayawardene, Rajshahi Kings head coach Lance Klusener, Dhaka Dynamites West Indies all-rounder Andre Russell were amongst the players and coaches to arrive Dhaka on Wednesday.
Sylhet Sixers’ top-signing David Warner, coach Waqar Younis, Pakistani player Sohail Tanvir, Khulna’s Carlos Brathwaite, Lasith Malinga and Brendon Taylor were also expected to arrive last night.
The BPL is scheduled to run from January 5 to February 8 with holders Rangpur facing Chittagong Vikings in the opening match on Saturday at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium.
Rangpur’s destructive opener West Indies’s Chris Gayle is expected to join the team one day before their inaugural match, though team officials said they will not get the service of another marquee signing South Africa’s AB de Villiers until the second phase in Sylhet, starting from January 15.
The remaining other foreign players of the team, including England’s Alex Hales, Ravi Bopara, Benny Howell and South Africa’s Rilee Rossouw are likely to attend the trainings from today.
Russell and South Africa’s Andrew Birch arrived in Dhaka on Wednesday to play for last year’s runner-up Dhaka and the team’s other top-recruits Sunil Narine, Rovman Powell, Kieron Pollard and England’s Ian Bell are expected to arrive in the city today.
Dhaka’s head coach Khaled Mahmud was hopeful to win the tournament this time around and was happy with their collection of foreign players.
‘We will start the tournament with the expectation of becoming champions,’ Mahmud told reporters on Wednesday in Mirpur after conducting his team’s first training session ahead of the tournament.
‘We have a good side, our foreign collections are also good giving us a good combination. But every match is crucial and all the teams are strong so we have to make less mistakes,’ he added.
Meanwhile, Comilla Victorians said they would get the service of Australian cricketer Steve Smith from the start of the tournament after initially signing him as a back-up to Pakistani player Shoaib Malik.
Smith was expected to join the side from the second phase in Sylhet, but a team spokesman said he would join the team on Friday and should be available from their first match against Sylhet on Sunday.
Comilla’s other major foreign recruits Malik, Shahid Afridi and Evin Lewis are expected to arrive in the city today.
Comilla’s head coach Mohammad Salahuddin believed that the arrival of Smith would give them a much needed boost.
‘I am hopeful that he [Smith] will play from the first match,’ Salahuddin told reporters in Mirpur.
‘I think the team will be benefited as well as Smith himself. It is a good opportunity for him before playing in the international level. If he does well for us then we will be the main beneficiaries,’ he added.
Rajshahi and Chittagong Vikings are not much behind of other teams as most of their players and foreign coaching staff already stepped in the city for the gala event.

Source: New Age.

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