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Most T20 leagues have either six or eight teams and the BPL was no different, starting off with half a dozen – a number that goes up to seven at times and comes back down to the originally planned six. Currently, the BPL is a seven-team tournament which is an oddity – quite literally.
The league began its journey with Duronto Rajshahi, Khulna Royal Bengals, Dhaka Gladiators, Barisal Burners, Chittagong Kings and Sylhet Royals. There have been multiple changes in the line-up over the years, with new franchises added in 2013 (Rangpur Rangers) and 2015 (Cumilla Warriors) and the franchise representing Barisal going defunct in 2017.
What we’re currently left with, or the sides that played the last tournament, are Dhaka Platoon, Cumilla Warriors, Rajshahi Royals, Rangpur Rangers, Barisal Bulls, Chattogram Challengers, Khulna Tigers and Sylhet Thunder.
The franchises, already re-branded beyond recognition, might undergo another round of facelift when the BPL comes back – if it comes back – later this year. This is so because the BCB’s contract with the franchises ran out in 2019, and after it failed to negotiate an extension, it decided to went solo and staged the entire event itself.
That should, or could, change in the next edition, with new owners at the helm.
The inaugural edition of the BPL in 2012 was won by the capital city side, Dhaka Gladiators, who then successfully defended their crown the very next season. In 2015, Comilla Victorians triumphed, followed by another Dhaka victory in 2016, albeit under the name of Dynamites.
Rangpur Riders (2017), Comilla (2018) and Rajshahi Royals (2019) were the three latest winners.
The 2020 edition of the tournament was scrapped due to Covid-19 outbreak, which was a bit of a bummer, especially considering that most leagues did manage to host or complete their leagues despite the crisis caused by the pandemic. The fans were hoping that after the blank of 2020, the BCB would surely manage to stage the tournament in 2021.
Unfortunately, there will be no BPL this calendar year either, as the BCB was unable to find a window where its national cricketers would be free. With the Bangladesh national team scheduled to tour Pakistan in November, the Board had no choice but to put off the eighth edition of the tournament till January 2022.
The BPL, like several other leagues, attracts a number of top T20 specialists from the West Indies. Generally speaking, whichever side lands the best combination of the men from the Caribbean, that side does well. So in a typical BPL campaign, watch out for the likes of Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard et al for early hints on which way the league might go.
Another nationality found in abundance in the BPL is Pakistani, with big names such as Mohammad Amir, Shoaib Malik, Shahid Afridi frequent visitors. Due to their familiarity with South Asian conditions, Pakistani players can also be a decent barometer of which way the league is going to go.
Local superstar Shakib Al Hasan has finished as man of the tournament on three occasions and won it twice. He represents the franchise from Dhaka, which is almost always in the hunt.