Chittagong threaten to pull out after semis confusion
Chittagong Kings have threatened to pull out of the next edition of the Bangladesh Premier League because they were replaced in the semi-finals of this year's tournament hours after being officially deemed to have qualified. The matter descended into farce, with the BPL first making a clear statement on Monday saying Chittagong were one of the semi-finalists and then, at 2:45am on Tuesday morning, issuing a release saying that in fact Barisal Burners were the fourth semi-finalists. The situation became murkier on Tuesday as the Chittagong franchise alleged that the BPL had also not responded to their reports of being approached to fix matches.
Nasir Ahmed, the Chittagong manager, said the manner in which Chittagong had been ousted from the knockout phase was an "injustice". "We rushed to the stadium [at night] and on arrival we were given a letter which said Barisal are through to the semi-final and we are out," he said. "We were stunned as this could not happen according to the tournament's bylaws. This is an injustice and we want a remedy."
On Sunday evening, after Barisal had chased down Chittagong's score in 15 overs, it was announced by the broadcasters that Barisal were through to the semi-finals on the basis of net run-rate. This, according to Mike Procter, BPL match-referee and technical committee member, was a false announcement. "It didn't come from us, nothing official came from us," Procter said. "If the television [broadcasters] speculate and if you guys [the media] speculate, we do not take the responsibility.
At that point, Chittagong, Barisal, Khulna Royal Bengals and Dhaka Gladiators were equal on 10 points. On Monday, Dhaka lost narrowly to Rajshahi and Khulna beat Sylhet Royals. By virtue of 12 points from 10 games, Khulna went to second place, leaving Dhaka, Barisal and Chittagong tied on points at the end of the league phase.
In the head-to-head results between the three teams level on 10 points, Dhaka had beaten Barisal twice and Chittagong once and therefore qualified for the semi-finals in third place. That now left Chittagong and Barisal in contention for the fourth spot. Chittagong had two wins, against Barisal and Dhaka, while Barisal had only one, against Chittagong. Barisal's net run-rate, however, was better than that of Chittagong.
On Monday evening, BPL governing council chairman Gazi Ashraf Hossain officially announced the semi-final line-up. "According to the rules Rajshahi, Khulna, Dhaka and Chittagong are through," he said. He produced a photocopied page from the by-laws where clause 21.8.2 was pointed out. It said: "when three or more teams finish with equal wins in the league, then the team(s) which was (were) the winner of the most number of matches played between those equal teams in the league will be placed in the higher position(s). If after applying this criterion, there are many items which are still equal, then such equal teams shall be ranked according to their net run-rate in the league."
It was announced that Chittagong were in the semi-finals on the basis of a better head-to-head record in the three-way tie on 10 points, which included Dhaka.
At 2.45 am on Tuesday morning, however, the BPL issued a release which said that Barisal was the fourth semi-finalist. The second and third points in the release said:
"(2) Three teams - Dhaka Gladiators, Barisal Burners and Chittagong Kings are on equal (10) points. Dhaka Gladiators have most wins from meetings with Barisal Burners and Chittagong Kings and therefore qualify as the 3rd semi-finalist.
"(3) With Barisal Burners and Chittagong Kings both having one win against each other the 4th qualifier had to be decided on the basis of superior net run-rate. Barisal edged ahead of Chittagong on net run-rate to become the 4th semi-finalist."
Procter explained that the confusion arose because there were two clauses: one concerning a situation in which three teams were equal on points (21.8.2) and one referring to a similar situation with two teams (21.8.1). The former was used to decide Dhaka's qualification, which left Chittagong and Barisal level, meaning clause 21.8.1 would come into effect and Chittagong's win against Dhaka would not be counted.
"Because they ended up with the most points Dhaka were taken out of the equation," Procter said. "Two teams were left. So you could not have a head-to-head between three teams, but only two."
Chittagong, though, were left fuming and their chief executive has now also said they had been approached to fix matches. These claims come a day after the arrest of a Pakistani citizen, who was attending BPL matches, on suspicions of involvement in fixing.
"We have been approached by unknown callers at three times to fix matches," the Chittagong chief executive Sameer Quader Chowdhury said. "We informed the BPL governing council in writing but did not get any response. Even the man arrested on suspicion the other day was first identified by us."
He also said that Chittagong were considering pulling out of the tournament, though the franchise had been bought for three years. "We have invested a lot in this tournament [but] if this trend continues, we will not participate from the next edition."
Another bone of contention for the Chittagong Kings was that the official scoring website (digicricket.marssil.com) showed Chittagong above Barisal in the head-to-head count till 11am in the morning but later had N/A (not applicable) filled for each team in the head-to-head column.
Edited by Dustin Silgardo