Bangladesh Premier League to begin on February 9

The first edition of the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) will kick off on February 9, 2012 with the final to be played on February 29

Tariq Engineer
Shakib Al Hasan was the first Bangladesh player to take a five-for and score a ton in a Test, Bangladesh v Pakistan, 2nd Test, Mirpur, 4th day, December 20, 2011

Bangladesh allrounder Shakib Al Hasan will be the icon player for Khulna  •  AFP

The first edition of the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) will kick off on February 9, 2012 with the final to be played on February 29. The 20-day tournament will feature six teams that will play each other twice each in a round-robin format over 33 matches to be held in Chittagong and Dhaka.
Teams will be allowed to field five foreign players in their XIs, as opposed to four in the IPL. Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden, Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Bravo and Kamran Akmal are among at least 25 foreign players who have made themselves available for the tournament.
"The main thing is the Bangladesh players have to be available," Arun Lal, a consultant to Game on Sports, the tournament organisers, and also a former India opener, told ESPNcricinfo.
As in the first season of the IPL, each team will have an icon player. The Bangladesh Cricket Board announced yesterday that Tamim Iqbal will be the icon player for Chittagong, Mohammad Ashraful for Dhaka, Alok Kapali for Sylhet, Shahriar Nafees for Barisal, Mushfiqur Rahim for Rajshahi and Shakib Al Hasan for Khulna. The players will be paid 5% more than the amount received by the highest paid player of each franchise.
The franchise auction will take place on January 5, either in Dhaka or the sea-side town of Cox's Bazar. Companies wishing to bid for a franchise will submit their offers on the same day, and bids will be opened in front of all those present, with the franchises going to the highest bidder. The player auction is scheduled to take place 10 days later. Each team will have to spend a minimum of US $2 million and can spend up to a maximum of $5 million.
The BPL will be televised on a new sports channel in Bangladesh and the organisers are believed to be in discussions with Ten Sports to broadcast the tournament in India. However, India's domestic 50-over tournament begins on February 20 and therefore could restrict Indian participation. "India is a problem," Lal said. "In the first six or eight games, they [India players] could play."
The organisers are also hoping that the winner of the BPL will be given a place in the Champions League Twenty20 next year.
Game on Sports paid US$44.3 million for the rights to the BPL for six years.
This article was amended on January 4 to remove James Anderson's name

Tariq Engineer is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo