Big Picture

A batting line-up that boasts Kieron Pollard, Imran Nazir, Mohammad Ashraful and Aftab Ahmed and has the likelihood of adding Shahid Afridi in the tournament's latter stages promises plenty of big hits and a genuine flutter in the hearts of a bowling attack, let alone a single bowler.

Ashraful and Aftab are perhaps the cleanest hitters of cricket balls in the country while the lively Nazir can bring down the house with his strokes; there's hardly anything left to say for Pollard and Afridi.

But fans of the country's largest division must be realists too. Ashraful hasn't been among runs for years while Aftab hasn't been the force since returning from the rebel Indian Cricket League. Nazir's international career is also stalled, which means that Nazimuddin, Darren Stevens and Alexei Kervezee will have to bear the responsibilities when the big-hitters fall early.

The bowling attack looks like a strong unit with Naved-Ul-Hasan leading the way. The injury-prone Mashrafe Mortaza is now good enough for a four-over spell and could surprise a batsman or two with his odd burst of pace while the spinners Stuart MacGill, Elias Sunny and Mosharraf Hossain are more than capable of keeping things quiet.

Dhaka Gladiators will also be smart behind the stumps with Dhiman Ghosh expected to pip Anamul Haque in the wicketkeeping position though the latter is a talented top-order batsman.

Star Attraction

For Dhaka to have Shahid Afridi play for them, the rest of the players have to get the franchise into the last four which is quite possible. Afridi's presence, despite all the conflicting reports, could take the franchise and the tournament itself to a different level. The Pakistan all-rounder's popularity is tremendous in these parts and if he plays in a semi-final or a final, it could be the biggest boost for the BPL.

Top player

But before Afridi though, it has to be Kieron Pollard who would be have to do all the running for Dhaka. A robust all-rounder with the ability to turn a Twenty20 game on its head, Pollard has had some success in Bangladesh in the past. His change of pace would come in hand on the low and slow wickets of Chittagong but it would ultimately be his big-hitting ability that would make all the difference.

Under the radar

Aftab Ahmed has T20 skills all over his batting. He has all the shots in the book and some more. But he has been out of the national squad for two years and past his best days for a longer time. Some late form in the domestic one-day competition could bring the best out of Aftab once more.

Mohammad Isam is senior sports reporter at the Daily Star in Dhaka