BPL grapples with shortage of players
Less than a day before they play their opening match in the BPL, Khulna Royal Bengals have only eleven players to choose their line-up from, after they lost seven Pakistani players due to the fallout between the PCB and BCB.
ESPNcricinfo has learned that the franchise has asked the BPL governing council to allow them to bring in more local cricketers than the allotted ten. Khulna is trying to replace Shoaib Malik, Umar Akmal, Awaiz Zia, Umar Amin, Ahmed Shehzad, Haris Sohail and Bilawal Bhatti.
"We exactly have 11 players with just one foreigner," Khulna captain Shahriar Nafees told ESPNcricinfo. "Riki Wessels has arrived, but I am not sure whether more will arrive. The management is aware of this information."
The prospect is similar for Rangpur Riders, who have lost three Pakistani players - Anwar Ali, Raja Ali Dar and Sharjil Khan. They now have only 12 players left, having picked 15 in the auction. Former Bangladesh captain Faruque Ahmed has been working overtime to find players, but so far, none have confirmed. "We only have Kevin O'Brien arriving on time, but I am still trying to find some more to replace our Pakistani players," he said.
Dhaka Gladiators, who have confirmed the signing of Kieron Pollard, and Chittagong Kings are in better shape as they have lost one and two players respectively.
Duronto Rajshahi have added Simon Katich, Moeen Ali, Ben Edmonson, Jehan Mubarak, Dilshan Munaweera and Rizwan Cheema in their list of foreign players to fill in for the Pakistani players.
Among the other players likely to replace them are Brett Lee, Lahiru Thirimanne, Dilshan Munaweera and Sachitra Senanayake. Mohammad Nabi is understood to be signed up by the BPL governing council to be distributed to one of the franchises.
The pullout of the Pakistani players has resulted in chaotic last-minute changes for the organisers, with posters containing images of Shahid Afridi and Umar Gul already out in the streets. The future of the tournament will be at stake if proper replacements are not found, and if on-field performances do not veil the mess.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent