There's always been extra pressure for Bangladeshi cricketers when they represent big clubs in the Dhaka Premier League but when it comes to 17-time champions Abahani Limited, there are a few other aspects which the players need to accept as extra baggage.
At the same time almost every cricketer dreams of playing for Abahani due to the heritage, exposure and limelight which helps a player grow immensely. Abahani have been carrying the legacy with great authority over the years and the expectations from the fans, club officials and media has always been high, and this season is no exception.
But this time around, the players are feeling the strain of the unwanted attention of allegations of taking advantage by having too much power in the Bangladesh Cricket Board through the club. At the players’ draft, as many as six BCB directors sat in Abahani’s table which included their coach Khaled Mahmud, himself a BCB director and Bangladesh’s team manager.
In the field, there have been allegations of favouritism in terms of umpiring, getting their desired venue as well as playing a part in stopping the Super League game against Prime Doleshwar Sporting Club. While their officials have brushed aside the continued criticism, players sometime feel the pinch from their colleagues in other clubs.
But they know that performing for Abahani gives them the tag of being able to handle this unique pressure.
“Many of the players from different clubs at times criticise us directly and indirectly that we are playing for the committee’s team and we will win even if we are not able to perform on the field,” an Abahani cricketer said requesting anonymity.
“It's not right as we know that we give our 100 percent on the field and being a professional player it's my duty to perform as my club has paid me the salary,” he added.
Abahani made a disappointing start in the Dhaka Premier League and at one stage, it looked difficult for them to even qualify for the Super League. However they came back strong and are now third in the points table behind Legends of Rupganj and Victoria Sporting Club.
The thrashing 260-run win over eternal rival Mohammedan Sporting Club only served to boost the confidence of the side.
Tamim Iqbal has led the team and is among the top 10 run-getters in the league with 506 runs including five fifties and a hundred. Youngster Nazmul Hossain Shanto has also made 486 runs with four fifties but it has once again been Mosaddek Hossain Saikat who has guided his side to important wins on quite a few occasions. His late over heroics against Prime Doleshwar got them through despite the Taskin Ahmed run-out controversy. Mosaddek has made 453 runs while Taskin is their leading wicket taker with 19 scalps.
It is difficult playing for Abahani this season because while on the one hand the criticism of getting favours help other teams get away with mistakes against Abahani, most of the Abahani players are told that they are having it easy. In this sort of climate, it is not always easy to perform since not doing well would make it worse for them.
And it is often the players who face the wrath of Abahani supporters who are never satisfied since the last time they won a DPL title was in the 2010-11 season. A team’s success or failure always comes down to the players, and this time too, the Abahani players are feeling the pinch of all sorts of pressure. If they see all this positively, they can always handle harder challenges much better.
For players like Nazmul and Mosaddek, all of this prepares them for more success in their careers.