The second phase of the ongoing Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) Twenty20 2016-17 season enters its crucial stage on Thursday in Chittagong with the confident Dhaka Dynamites taking on a demoralised Chittagong Vikings in the first game at Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium.
In the evening match at the same venue, Rangpur Riders will lock horns with the high-flying Barisal Bulls.
Dhaka will look to continue their brilliant run, having won three in four attempts, as skipper Shakib al Hasan and his troop have managed to regain their momentum.
In-form opening batsman Mehedi Maruf is beaming with confidence after smashing two fifties. However, his opening partner Sri Lankan legend Kumar Sangakkara is yet to do justice to his name in the fourth edition.
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Dhaka's Nasir Hossain is enjoying a productive campaign so far DHAKA TRIBUNE
Nasir Hossain’s batting promotion to No 3 has paid off as he scored 43 off 35 balls against Comilla Victorians. His elevation in the batting order has given the capital city outfit proper balance. To add to that, youngster Mosaddek Hossain is also in terrific touch.
What's more, Shakib, English cricketer Ravi Bopara, West Indian Dwayne Bravo and Lankan Seekkuge Prasanna are very much capable of scoring quickly.
Pacer Mohammad Shahid is also in good rhythm, having picked four wickets in the previous game. He is the leading wicket taker with eight scalps, alongside Khulna Titans paceman Shafiul Islam. Bopara and Bravo are also more than capable of contributing in the pace-bowling department while Shakib will once again lead the spin attack along with Sanjamul Islam, Nasir, Prasanna and Mosaddek.
In contrast, Tamim Iqbal’s Chittagong are struggling, having lost three out of their four games. They have been unable to gel as a unit but with their next four matches taking place at their home ground, they will be desperate to make a turnaround.
Despite Tamim’s good form, the port city outfit are lacking fire-power at the end and it has cost them badly while their bowling department has also proved to be bite-less. Afghanistan recruit Mohammad Nabi has been their consistent performer so far.
However, the other overseas players need to step up along with the likes of Jahurul Islam and Anamul Haque.
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Barisal Bulls' Shahriar Nafees is currently the highest run-getter of BPL 4 DHAKA TRIBUNE
Meanwhile, Mushfiqur Rahim’s Barisal are turning into a dangerous unit with the progression of the tournament. English cricketer Dawid Malan is in superb form, along with the highest run-getter of the tournament so far, Shahriar Nafees. Captain Mushfiq is also leading from the front with the willow.
Barisal’s fast bowling department, comprising Al Amin Hossain, Abu Haider Rony and Kamrul Islam Rabbi, is doing a fair job while spinner Taijul Islam can prove to be useful on his day.
On the other hand, Naeem Islam’s Rangpur will look to return to winning ways after a brilliant start to the competition. They won the first two games before losing the third match against Dhaka comprehensively. Their Pakistan superstar Shahid Afridi will have to play a big role with both bat and ball, along with Afghan opener Mohammad Shahzad, who can be devastating when on song.
However, Soumya Sarkar and Mohammad Mithun’s poor form is a big concern.
Their bowling department though is well-tuned with spinners Sohag Gazi and Arafat Sunny proving to be brilliant so far.
BPL 4 timings changed
The governing council of the Bangladesh Premier League has decided to change the timing of the country's premier domestic Twenty20 competition, starting from Thursday in the second and penultimate phase in Chittagong.
The afternoon game will now start at 1pm, instead of the previous timing of 2pm while the evening match will begin at 5:45pm, in place of the previous timing of 7pm.
Only Friday's games will get underway at 1:30pm and 6:15pm.
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South African David Miller's addition will no doubt bolster the Rangpur Riders line-up COURTESY
Watson, Miller Rangpur's, Gayle to arrive early
Rangpur Riders have bolstered their squad with the additions of Australian all-rounder Shane Watson and big-hitting South African batsman David Miller.
Rangpur media manager MA Baki confirmed this to the media.
The duo though will only be available for the third and final leg of the Bangladesh Premier League Twenty20 in Dhaka. Watson's arrival date has not yet been confirmed but Miller will soon set foot in Bangladesh. Miller previously played for Chittagong Kings in the 2012-13 season.
In the meantime, Pakistan batsman Anwar Ali has already joined Rangpur and will be available for the second and penultimate phase in the port city.
Meanwhile, hard-hitting West Indies opening batsman Chris Gayle will join his side Chittagong Vikings within a few days. He was scheduled to play the last five group-stage matches for the port city outfit but it was learned that the Caribbean cricketer will be available for the second phase.
Dhaka Dynamites v Chittagong Vikings, 1pm
Rangpur Riders v Barisal Bulls, 5:45pm
Both games will be held at Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chittagong