As the curtains come down on the inaugural Bangabandhu T20 Cup, ESPNcricinfo highlights five standout features of the five-team domestic tournament
Arguably the biggest batting surprise in the tournament was Saif Hassan who had a powerplay strike rate of 134.14, which didn't drop much in the middle overs either. The surprise element to Saif's performance is down to his reputation as a Test opener, though he has scored heavily in most prior domestic limited-overs tournaments, too. Barishal coach Shohel Islam admitted at the end of the tournament that they were late in picking Saif, who ended up playing only five matches, averaging 30.40, with one half-century.
There was a bit of surprise with powerplay bowling, too. New-ball bowling honours went to Robiul Islam Robi and Nahidul Islam, two unheralded offspinners playing their first domestic tournament since the pandemic. Nahidul bowled the most powerplay overs, giving away runs at 6.32 per over, and taking 10 wickets. Robi took six powerplay wickets, and also bagged a five-for, at 13.33 average, with half of his 66 deliveries being dot balls. Both Nahidul and Robi have built careers in domestic cricket as handy allrounders, but their performance in the Bangabandhu T20 Cup should help them get noticed for bigger opportunities.
Cream rises to the top
Liton Das and Mustafizur Rahman topped the batting and bowling charts respectively, taking Gazi Group Chattogram into the final. Liton scored 393 runs at 49.12 average, including three half-centuries. Mustafizur took 22 wickets at 11.04 average and a solid 6.25 economy rate. Seniors like Tamim Iqbal, Mahmudullah and Mushfiqur Rahim, too, had good outings in this tournament. Mashrafe Mortaza joined in late but still was among the wickets. Shakib Al Hasan, however, missed out on a big performance in his first tournament since coming out of the one-year ban.
Fizz, Rabbi at the death
Mustafizur took 16 out of his 22 wickets in the last five overs, but a close second was Kamrul Islam Rabbi, who put his half-slingy action to good use for Fortune Barishal. Rabbi, who played the last of his seven Tests more than two years ago, took 11 wickets at the death, including a hat-trick in an important win over Minister Rajshahi. He, too, mostly kept the run rate down during the death overs. If the tournament set out to find T20 talents, Rabbi's performance in the death overs has helped the BCB achieve a part of that goal.
Muktar Ali has given glimpses of last-ball sixes and his wicket-taking ability previously too in domestic competitions. After years of service to the Rajshahi Division side and various Dhaka league teams, he earned a T20I cap four years ago, but that was the end of the journey in national colours. Bangladesh found Mohammad Saifuddin, who now opens the bowling and bats at No 7 or 8 in the white-ball formats, so the search for the pace bowling allrounder seemed over.
In this season, however, Muktar showcased some interesting facets to his skill-set. First, he showed can hit sixes, even under pressure. In addition, he is a good ground fielder and a safe catcher. But best of all, he can bowl at the back-end of a T20 innings, often changing his pace almost every ball. He has developed a good slower ball, and has the presence of mind of a cricketer who knows he has to contribute around the edges of more important players.
A replenished pace battery
After a lull of a few years, there is an element of rejuvenation in Bangladesh's pace bowling - there is now a promising group that has shown formidable fitness levels to go through two domestic tournaments. Left-arm quick Shoriful Islam, who had an impact in Bangladesh's Under-19 World Cup win earlier in the year, used his steady action to rattle batsmen with pace and bounce. He finished with 16 wickets at an average of 19.00.
Hasan Mahmud and Shohidul Islam eventually helped Khulna lift the trophy with crucial spells in the latter part of the competition. Sumon Khan, who took a five-wicket haul in the final of the BCB President's Cup, had his moments in this tournament too. The likes of Mustafizur, Rubel Hossain and Taskin Ahmed bowled well with both the new and the old ball, though Rubel and Taskin would have hoped to be more consistent.