The first press meet of the fifth edition of the BPL T20, that of Khulna Titans, took place amid grand fashion with the presence of former Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene at Hotel Radisson in Dhaka on Wednesday.
Jayawardene was unveiled as the new head coach for the next two years.
Mahmudullah will once again lead the side following a successful stint last year where Khulna, playing their maiden season in BPL, reached the second stage of the tournament after finishing second in the league phase with 14 points.
They eventually finished third following the playoffs.
During the media conference, Jayawardene shared experiences from his first tour of Bangladesh with the Sri Lanka “A” team back in 1994.
He also shared his vision regarding his new job as the coach of Khulna.
“First of all, thank you Inam (Ahmed) for the warm hospitality and making me a part of the Khulna Titans. It’s a great honour. Bangladesh obviously are quite close to my heart because my first national tour in Bangladesh was back in 1994 with the Sri Lanka A team. That was my first break and since then, I have visited Bangladesh quite a few times and we have good memories of winning the World [T20 in 2014],” said Jayawardene.
“It was great and playing last year’s BPL obviously gave me an insight to what the BPL is all about and how competitive it is. I really enjoyed obviously being in the champion team but this is a great opportunity for me to be a part of Khulna, which is a young team and an exciting unit. To work with [Mahmudullah] Riyad, obviously he had a good last season and every year he seems to improve, and I am looking forward to that opportunity,” he added.
Khulna managing director Kazi Inam Ahmed informed that the franchise have been communicating with the players from last season who performed well.
He also expressed his desire to open a cricket academy in Khulna.
“This is Khulna’s team and last time we hosted programmes in Khulna and Jessore and in our first year, we have put the names of late former national cricketer Manzarul Islam Rana and [Sajjad] Setu on our jersey after taking permission from their mother. Apart from that, we were involved in many other activities, which we will continue this year as well. We don’t want to be limited only in the tournament as we have a plan to open a Titans cricket academy. And we are looking forward to that,” said Kazi Inam.
Mahmudullah, meanwhile, informed that they are looking forward to play better cricket and rectify their mistakes from last season in order to achieve their goals this year.
“Last year I really had a good time with Khulna Titans, especially with the management and the team we had. We had a good team combination. I think we played pretty well last season and this time around, all I want to say is we want to play better cricket. I am really excited to work with Mahela Jayawardene. Especially the local players, we all are looking forward to this,” said Mahmudullah.
Khulna advisor and former Bangladesh captain Habibul Bashar said Khulna are eyeing the title this time around.
Bashar added that it’s a great opportunity for the youngsters to take a leaf out of Jayawardene's book and improve their performance.
“Obviously we are not only looking forward to winning the title but at the same time we would want to contribute to Bangladesh cricket. This is a big opportunity for our local players as Mahela Jayawardene is our coach,” said Bashar.
Pakistan's Junaid Khan has been retained from last season while new recruits this year include Pakistan's Shadab Khan and Sarfraz Ahmed, South Africa's Rilee Rossouw and Kyle Abbott, Australia's Chris Lynn and Sri Lanka's Seekkuge Prasanna.