Bangladesh Premier League 2012 March 1, 2012

The BPL XI

Eleven players who stood out in the inaugural Bangladesh Premier League

Ahmed Shehzad
12 matches, 486 runs, average 48.60, one 100, four 50s

A figure of $50,000 seemed a little too much next to Ahmed Shehzad's name when Barisal Burners picked him. But 486 runs later, it seems like a steal given what several more expensive players have done.

Shehzad slammed four fifties in the league stage but his contributions were telling and crucial after Chris Gayle left. He struck 60 in the next innings and followed it up with important contributions. In the semi-final, Shehzad was on fire, hitting 113 off just 49 balls. When he got out in the final, it was half the game won for the Dhaka Gladiators.

Chris Gayle
5 matches, 288 runs, average 96.00, two 100s

India, Australia and Zimbabwe had seen what the Twenty20 version of Chris Gayle was like, so it was Bangladesh's turn to duck and weave in the stands.

A poor opening ceremony followed by a very low turnout greeted the BPL but Gayle rescued the whole situation with a stunning show of six-hitting seldom seen in this part of the world.

That 44-ball 101 was followed by two innings of equal brutality but not length. He followed those up with another century, his second in four matches, a 61-ball 116 with 11 sixes.

He left Dhaka limping on an unbeaten 30 after pulling his hamstring; Gayle's exits from Dhaka haven't always been rosy.

Brad Hodge
12 matches, 346 runs, average 43.25, three 50s

A player into semi-retirement often takes the backseat and lets the youngsters run the show but Brad Hodge took charge.

Having taken over the captaincy from Shahriar Nafees midway through the tournament, the former Australia batsman scored plenty and scored them quickly. Barisal Burners played with a weakened middle order as Shehzad, Hodge and Mustard had to do the bulk of the scoring after Gayle's departure.

More than his three fifties (one of which was the vital one against Chittagong in the return leg), Hodge's most telling contributions were the three century partnerships he was involved in.

Shakib Al Hasan
11 matches, 280 runs, average 40.00, 1 50, 15 wickets, economy-rate 7.11

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realise that Shakib Al Hasan is the most professional cricketer in Bangladesh.

And this tournament has been yet another opportunity for him to further his captaincy ambitions. With the Khulna Royal Bengals reaching the last four, Shakib did a good job handling a multi-national team but it was the weight of his performance that won him the Man-of-the-Tournament car.

Before his fighting half-century in the semi-final which ended in his side losing the game to Dhaka Gladiators, Shakib's final over against Sylhet showed why every coach says the same thing about him, that he can walk into any team in the world.

Mushfiqur Rahim
11 matches, 234 runs, average 39.00, 1 50

The national captain was in charge of Duronto Rajshahi, a team that had enough talent to become champions. They, however, made a poor start, especially by dropping too many catches.

Mushfiqur regrouped his troops and let the bigger names like Abdul Razzaq and Marlon Samuels play their own game.

The younger lot responded and when the wins started to come, Mushfiqur started to score too. His half-century in the semi-final looked good enough for a Man-of-the-Match award but Rajshahi ran into a rampant Barisal and Shehzad did the damage.

Mohammad Ashraful
12 matches, 258 runs, average 28.66, 1 50

Mohammad Ashraful has been heavily criticised for his form with the national team in recent times but he did have some happy moments during the BPL.

He wore the pink cap for much of the three weeks for taking the most number of catches and danced almost each time he took one in the latter stages. He batted well in patches, and even got to a fifty. At least in this tournament, he wasn't totally inconsistent.

He ended BPL as the second-highest run-getter among the Bangladesh players after Shakib, an achievement of sorts for a batsman who hasn't done anything of note of late.

Azhar Mahmood
11 matches, 298 runs, average 33.11, 2 50s, 9 wickets, economy-rate 8.29

One of the pivotal players in the Dhaka Gladiators' march to the trophy was Azhar Mahmood, who brought the weight of his 19-year experience spanning ten teams across the world to the Gladiators dressing-room.

Mahmood batted at No 3 and stabilised a line-up that had too many attacking options. He struck two half-centuries and scored at a fair clip. He picked up nine wickets but was a tad expensive at times.

Elias Sunny
12 matches, 17 wickets, average 14.88, economy-rate 6.71

Regarded as one of the most valued domestic cricketers, Elias Sunny did himself a huge favour by performing impressively.

The wickets didn't come on days when Mosharraf Hossain, the other left-arm spinner, dominated the bowling. He bowled a good spell once in a while but was persisted with, especially due to his batting ability when the team had to choose between him and Mosharraf.

Eventually he had better figures than Shahid Afridi and Saeed Ajmal in the semi-final, though remained wicketless in the final. Despite that, he is the joint highest wicket-taker alongside the next man and won the best local player award in the BPL.

Mohammad Sami
11 matches, 17 wickets, average 15.76, economy-rate 6.51

The last time he played for Pakistan was two years ago, so when he bowled with pace and bagged wickets wickets for Gazi Tank Cricketers in the Dhaka Premier League, people sat up and took notice.

He was rewarded a place in the Duronto Rajshahi squad. After some wicketless games and much coaxing from Razzaq, Sami burst into action with a hat-trick, the tournament's first and only.

He also had the tournament's only five-wicket haul, a brilliant 5 for 6 against Dhaka in the last league game of the BPL.

Mashrafe Mortaza
11 matches, 10 wickets, average 27.40, economy-rate 6.85

Finishing the tournament unscathed was Mashrafe Mortaza's biggest challenge when Dhaka Gladiators belatedly picked him for only $45,000 at the auction after his home side Khulna didn't go for him. He had to prove himself by playing. Ending the tournament as the captain of the title-winners will be of special significance for Mashrafe.

He was also in the news for reporting to his franchise an approach from a fellow cricketer regarding potential spot-fixing and a committee was subsequently formed to look into the matter.

Enamul Haque
9 matches, 13 wickets, average 14.46, economy-rate 6.26

Enamul Haque, a left-arm spinner, needed this tournament as a springboard for future national selection. And he used it quite well.

With 13 wickets, some match-winning ones, in nine games for the Chittagong Kings, Enamul might find himself back in the Bangladesh fold sometime this year.

In the race of the left-arm spinners, Enamul is leading but with so many of them around, he has to keep doing well to hold on to his place.

Mohammad Isam is senior sports reporter at the Daily Star in Dhaka

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