Chittagong Vikings captain Tamim Iqbal said that he had urged the local players in his side to step up and match the performances of their overseas signings, ahead of their 29-run win over defending champions Comilla Victorians in the BPL opener on Tuesday.
"Before today's match, I told our local players, although we have four or five big names, you cannot become their shadows," Tamim said. "BPL is our tournament. Bangladesh doesn't lose ten out of ten games anymore. The local players have to show that they are good cricketers. They have to express themselves. Every BPL, we find one or two Bangladeshi heroes, so I want one from our team this year."
Tamim made 54, and Jahurul Islam contributed 29 in an unbroken fourth-wicket stand of 60 with Shoaib Malik to steer Chittagong to 161 for 3 in 20 overs. Later, Abdur Razzak bowled four very good overs, but the rest of the work was done by Mohammad Nabi and Tymal Mills. Taskin Ahmed, who took one wicket and a catch, bowled a poor last over.
Comilla's situation was worse and they need their local batsmen to quickly step up to enable the inclusion of bowlers like Rashid Khan. "If we keep playing more overseas batsmen, we will have to play with a bowler short. Already, we haven't found a place for Rashid Khan, so it won't be possible for us to use more overseas batsmen. Our local players are capable, but they have to take more responsibilities in the field," Comilla captain Mashrafe Mortaza said.
Mashrafe further said that local batsmen will have to get used to fast bowlers like Mills, who shook the Comilla batsmen with his variations in pace. "Batsmen from our country aren't quite accustomed to play the sort of pace generated by Tymal Mills, who is very quick. Still, it was a good experience for Shanto, who would have handled him better had there been more wickets in hand.
"Mills' slower deliveries are also quite effective, because everyone thinks about his pace."
Local players have dominated the batting and bowling charts in the last three editions of the tournament. In 2015, there were five local players among the top ten batsmen, with Imrul Kayes second, while Abu Hider was the second-highest wicket-taker. In the edition before that, in 2013, there were six locals among the top-ten batsmen, with Mushfiqur Rahim topping the run charts and Shamsur Rahman at third, and Enamul Haque jnr was third in the bowling charts. In the inaugural edition in 2012, Elias Sunny was the joint-highest wicket-taker with Mohammad Sami, but the batsmen didn't fare too well.