The owners of the Rangpur franchise were the only ones allowed to retain their team in BPL 2015, and considering the Riders finished second on the table as opposed to fifth like the last time in 2013, they should feel pleased. Except, Rangpur got a healthy core of players from the draft in October and were one of the strongest squads on paper so tripping over on the last step before the summit might sting.
The Shakib Al Hasan-led side would've made the final if they'd won the second qualifier, and though they put up 160 runs on the board and took two early wickets in the chase, a ferocious century partnership between Sabbir Rahman and Shahariar Nafees sealed Barisal Bulls' victory.
Shane Jurgensen, the Rangpur coach, was rueful his bowlers could not break that stand but the bigger concern coming into that game had been the batsmen - they had crumbled to 91 all out in the first qualifier.
Luckily for Rangpur, they were not reliant on one player. Lendl Simmons, with 221 runs, was their highest scorer but the rest were no slouches. Jahurul Islam, Soumya Sarkar and Thisara chipped in with handy knocks.
Rangpur's bowling attack was propped up on many shoulders as well. Thisara and Arafat Sunny took 18 and 16 wickets respectively but it is hard to look beyond Shakib Al Hasan as their best, with 18 scalps. Shakib's batting though could have been better, perhaps he could have avoided some unnecessary slogs and built bigger innings.
Rangpur's run this year was a proper team effort, but they ran out of contributions when it mattered most. They may have missed a trick by not playing Misbah for more than the five games. He is a proven match-winner and could have slotted in their middle order instead of Simmons, who was a bit hit or miss.
Overall, it was a half-and-half campaign for Rangpur; they could feel happy with the end result but there remains a lingering feeling that they could have made fewer mistakes at crucial stages.
In the first week of the tournament, Rangpur were riding high and their 69-run win over Dhaka Dynamites was an impressive display of their all-round strength. Simmons, Mithun, Thisara and Shakib combined well with the bat before Shakib shut Dhaka down with a four-wicket haul.
Their 72-run defeat to Comilla in the first qualifier. Thisara had taken a five-for to limit the target to 164, but then their batsmen could not follow through.
Top of the class
Shakib took the most wickets in the matches Rangpur won, but that is almost expected of one of the world's best allrounders. So Jahurul Islam edges ahead. Having recently recovered from ankle surgery, he was their best batsman and second highest-scorer overall. In the six wins he was part of with Rangpur, he was unbeaten four times with an average of 84 and strike rate of 111.25.
Much was expected of Darren Sammy but a batting average of 13 from eight innings and just four wickets in 10 games means he was one of the few who underperformed for Rangpur. Still, his acrobatic catch in the second qualifier would long be remembered in Mirpur.
Tip for 2016
Rangpur's ownership would likely stick to their current combination. They have a strong bowling attack, their batting line-up has strong local flavor. Retaining players like Mohammad Mithun, Jahurul Islam and Arafat Sunny, apart from the overseas players and Shakib should be their main target.