Khelaghar Samaj Kalyan Samity have emerged as the surprise package in the Dhaka Premier Division Cricket League 2017-18 season as they have won five matches out of nine in the current season.
After round nine, Khelaghar are fifth in the points table ahead of big teams like Mohammedan Sporting Club Limited, Prime Bank Cricket Club and defending champion Gazi Group Cricketers, among other teams.
Khelaghar have won against Gazi Group by five wickets, beat Agrani Bank Cricket Club by seven wickets, defeated Kalabagan Krira Chakra by 15 runs, won against Brothers Union by three wickets and beat Lt. Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club by six wickets. What's more, they have lost one game against Prime Doleshwar Sporting Club by just one wicket as the match went down to the last ball of the innings.
There are not many big names in the Khelaghar squad this season. Experienced and former national players like Nafees Iqbal and Nazimuddin are leading the side, comprising a young group of players, but still they have produced some magnificent results by playing competitive cricket against the big teams.
How did a team like Khelaghar, technically the lowest budget team in the DPL, and without an icon, A or even a B+ category player in their squad manage to pull off some great results? The answer is simple, proper planning, team spirit and playing as a unit.
Captain Nafees attributed their success to their team motto, “We don’t want to be Tigers, rather we want to be Hyenas, who attack as a team”.
And the Khelaghar players have followed the team motto quite well so far. Playing as a unit and concentrating on team game, rather than individual performance.
Skipper Nafees gave credit to the players, team management and everyone associated with the club for their impressive run in the DPL.
“We have no big names in our team. But we have some young, exciting and hardworking cricketers in the squad. From the players' draft, we have tried to build a balanced team, rather than spending on big names. I think we have been able to build a balanced squad. And we are performing well. Five wins out of nine games are proof that Khelaghar are on track and definitely we want to win more this season. The reasons behind Khelaghar’s success are players played good competitive cricket and they played as a unit. Stand-in captain Nazimuddin has also added great value to the team and is playing a crucial role,” said captain Nafees.
“And off the field, we have got tremendous support from the coaching staffs, team management and Khelaghar club’s cricket committee chairman. They have encouraged us after every match and thus players remain motivated to perform better. Team culture is always important. Proper planning and execution are also part of a good team culture. There is a lot of difference between a first division team and a premier league team. And the team culture in this club, from the cricket committee level right to the player’s level, is brilliant and thus we are getting positive results at the middle,” he added.
Khelaghar coach Ruhul Amin also praised the process behind the team and gave credit to the team management, his young players and experienced campaigner Nafees for the recent success.
“Success comes through a lot of processes. Our team management and owners are fantastic. From the day of team selection, we were different from others. Besides that, the captain of the team, Nafees, whom I coached in U-17 level, is playing a crucial role behind the team’s success. As a coach I have great understanding with Nafees regarding team selection, player management and everything. Actually proper coordination is a big factor behind every team’s success. And obviously players are performing very well in the field. They are maintaining discipline, dedication and determination in the field. And that’s why we have won five matches and looking for more,” Ruhul told Dhaka Tribune.
Khelaghar produced some promising young talents in the last two years and coach Ruhul informed that this club have become the perfect platform for the young players.
“Khelaghar are an ideal platform for a young player. Khelaghar have a cricket academy. Last year a young spinner named Tanvir Islam came through the academy, then played in the Premier League for Khelaghar and became the third highest wicket-taker. And later, he played Bangladesh Premier League T20 5 for Khulna Titans. This year we also have some young exciting talents like Mahidul Islam Ankon and Hasan Mahmud. So Khelaghar always try to promote young players who can contribute for Bangladesh cricket in future,” he added.
Stand-in skipper Nazimuddin also praised their team spirit, and the players, particularly the in-form foreign recruit Ashok Menaria for the successes.
This year’s Premier League have became so competitive that even after round nine and securing five wins, Khelaghar are yet to confirm a place in the six-team Super League or even guarantee safety from the relegation league.
Khelaghar's remaining two matches are against Mohammedan and Prime Bank. But whatever the results are, Khelaghar have proved that a side with mediocre budget can achieve success with proper planning and team effort. In the end, it’s the performance with the bat and ball which win matches for a team, and not the big names.
Like skipper Nafees says, the team motto is, “We don’t want to be Tigers, rather we want to be Hyenas, in order to achieve success”.
Ave HS SR 100/50
75.5 113* 86.61 1/4
45.25 115* 70.15 1/2
31.5 116 75 1/0
Ave BBI SR
36.77 3/24 43.3
39.87 4/30 51
28 2/35 36