Dhaka Premier League 2013-14 September 9, 2013

No restriction on Pakistan players in DPL

Pakistan cricketers are welcome to play in the 2012-13 Dhaka Premier Division Cricket League, but have to provide no-objection certificates (NOC) from the PCB, said a BCB official on Monday. On the eve of the tournament, this was one of two major concerns as the organisers, Cricket Committee of Dhaka Metropolis (CCDM), also kept an eye on the weather.

"We do not have any embargoes on players from any country," CCDM chairman Jalal Yunus said. "We have repeatedly said that a player has to get the NOC from his cricket board. The process is for our clubs to contact the player, who will get the clearance from his board and if needed, we will help him with the visa with a letter.

"From what we have heard from the media, they (PCB) want us to write to them. We haven't done that with any cricket board. We have followed the usual practice with Sri Lanka Cricket, who have provided NOCs to their players for this league. We will continue to follow the usual practice."

The clubs have sourced players from Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka and New Zealand, but have so far failed to sign those from Pakistan and India.

Apart from player recruitment, the CCDM is also worried about the weather as it has been raining in most parts of Bangladesh. Bogra, Rajshahi and parts of Dhaka district are the main venues in the first two rounds of matches, and all three areas have experienced lots of rain in the past week. Rain was expected in September, and the CCDM has kept a reserve day following each day's play.

Defending champions Victoria Sporting Club will play their opening match against Kala Bagan Cricket Academy without any foreign players, rare for a Dhaka club. They will rely heavily on Bangladesh players Nasir Hossain, Anamul Haque, Robiul Islam and fringe players like Soumya Sarkar, Monir Hossain, Mohammad Sharif and Shaker Ahmed.

Last season, Victoria enjoyed an exorbitant budget through the businessman Lutfar Rahman who has now moved on to become the chairman of Gazi Tank. Apart from Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan, their Pakistan recruits Kamran Sajid and Ahmed Shehzad contributed heavily. Shoaib Malik too played three matches while the left-arm spinner from India, Iqbal Abdulla, was effective in his four matches.

This year will be different for the four-time champions who admitted that they had to spend cautiously. Gazi Tank have confirmed the services of the former New Zealand allrounder Scott Styris and the Sri Lankan Kaushalya Weeraratne, and boast local stars like Mahmudullah, Imrul Kayes, Raqibul Hasan, Rubel Hossain and Aftab Ahmed.

But history will favour Abahani, who have won the tournament a record 17 times. Their stronghold began in the inaugural season in 1974-75 when they defeated little-known Shantinagar to win the title. They have also claimed three hat-tricks (1984-85, 1985-86, 1986-87; 1992-93, 1993-94, 1994-95; 2006-07, 2007-08, 2008-09). They last won the DPL in the 2010-11 season.

This season the Dhanmondi-based club have focused on youth, much to the frustration of their fans. Liton Kumar Das, Alauddin Babu and Taposh Ghosh, three uncapped but promising players were their first picks in the player-by-choice programme last month. They have only picked Shahriar Nafees and Nazimuddin as experienced players, while also bringing in Tharanga Paranavitana, Janaka Gunaratne and the 40-year-old Indika de Saram from Sri Lanka, seemingly to offset the heavy presence of youngsters in the side.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here