Mashrafe praises young talent
Mashrafe Mortaza, captain of Dhaka Gladiators, said that the strength of individual players pushed his team to a second BPL trophy, in spite of the pressure of expectations weighing heavily on them. Dhaka defended their title on Tuesday after Chittagong collapsed towards the end of their innings, losing their last five wickets in just 21 balls.
In the mayhem that usually follows a title win in Mirpur, Mashrafe led his team on a lap of honour to thank the full house that turned up on the weekday. This second triumph was always on the cards for a team that was much better on paper than any of the other BPL sides. Dhaka emerged as favourites after the player auction, when they targeted the biggest names at home and several foreign Twenty20 specialists.
Their efforts culminated in nine wins in 12 league stage matches along with two victories in the knockout phase. They edged out Sylhet Royals, who ran them close despite Chris Gayle's stunning century, before opening up a fair distance between them and the Kings in the final.
"There were expectations, and the pressure that comes along with it," Mashrafe said. "But most of our players performed, which is the most important aspect of a champion side. There was extra pressure on us because we are defending champions, but we overcame that with performances throughout the tournament."
"In Twenty20s, the big names don't matter all the time. It is what you do on the day that will dictate how your tournament goes. I think our younger and less-experienced guys did well. For example, [Anamul Haque] Bijoy batted wherever I asked him to, and he made the runs as well."
Mohammad Ashraful, Anamul and Shakib Al Hasan all made more than 300 runs in the tournament. Shakib won the man-of-the-tournament award for his 329 runs and 15 wickets while Anamul played an excellent innings in the final. Among the bowlers, South African Alfonso Thomas finished as the tournament's top wicket-taker with 20 scalps while Mosharraf Hossain, the man-of-the-match in the final, finished with 17.
Mashrafe also lauded Shakib for performing when the chips were down. "Shakib is a big player, he lets us drop a batsman or a bowler any day because he does both jobs so well. He was a big help throughout, especially when the top order didn't perform or when we needed to slow things down with the ball," he said.
Chittagong captain, Mahmudullah rued the injuries to Jacob Oram and Kevon Cooper, which resulted in them bringing in two little-known Sri Lankan players, Shehan Jayasuriya and Dilhara Lokuhettige. But he conceded that Dhaka played a far superior game.
"Credit must go to Dhaka, for the way they played. I think we pulled it back well after they were 90-odd after ten overs. But we missed Oram and Cooper, and I am not blaming the two new guys for the loss.
"The spell from Mosharraf Hossain was also vital, and in those four overs, we lost four wickets. It was a tough situation to recover from," said Mahmudullah.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent