Dhaka Gladiators crowned BPL's first champions
Dhaka Gladiators 144 for 2 (Nazir 75, Anamul 49*) beat Barisal Burners 140 for 7 (Hodge 70*, Afridi 3-23) by eight wickets
Dhaka Gladiators won the inaugural Bangladesh Premier League by bringing out their A-game in the knockout stages of the tournament. They took only 15.4 overs to overhaul the Barisal Burners total and complete a eight-wicket win in front of a packed Shere Bangla Stadium in Mirpur.
The gulf between the two teams was evident as the Pakistan-heavy Gladiators had a lot more to offer with bat and ball compared to the top-heavy Burners, who could only score 140 for 7 in 20 overs. Gladiators' young Anamul Haque was the only local player to impress, scoring 49 off 38 balls with five fours and a six. He sealed the victory for the home team with a lofted on-drive against left-arm spinner Nazmul Islam with 26 balls to spare.
Anamul added 110 for the second wicket with the opener Imran Nazir, who hammered six fours and six sixes in his 43-ball 75. That partnership ensured victory for Gladiators, whose turnaround in the tournament in the knockout stages coincided with the arrival of Shahid Afridi and Saeed Ajmal.
The Burners' defence of their modest total suffered because of poor catching. Mohammad Mithun, a wicketkeeper who was auctioned for $80,000, had a terrible time under the lights. Fielding in the deep, he dropped Nazimuddin twice at deep square-leg off consecutive Kabir Ali deliveries in the second over.
Their problems weren't restricted to poor catching and bowling. The Burners' batting also suffered from early losses. As soon as Ahmed Shehzad fell for 28 in the fifth over by failing to clear mid-off, and Phil Mustard followed by getting trapped leg-before by Saeed Ajmal, it was all down to the captain Brad Hodge.
The Australia batsman didn't disappoint, hitting four boundaries and four sixes in his unbeaten 51-ball 70. Hodge, despite his efforts, couldn't put together a decent partnership against a high quality bowling attack as the rest simply wilted.
The Burners also benefited from some slip-ups in the field, with Gladiators' Dhiman Ghosh topping the list of offenders. The wicketkeeper first dropped a skier from Shehzad before missing a stumping off Ajmal, but he made amends with a reflex catch off a ripper from Afridi. Later, even Afridi and Azhar Mahmood dropped a skier each.
In the end, it was the Gladiators' star power that took them through. Their efforts to keep some Dhaka players in the line-up paid off as Mohammad Ashraful, Elias Sunny and Anamul all performed well. It was disappointing that no Barisal-born players were given enough opportunities in the Burners line-ups throughout the tournament.
But as far as a Twenty20 jamboree goes, some of the cricket was breathtaking, though the off-field issues will remain the talking point till the next edition.