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Has the BPL done it for the Tigers?

Not often do you get to see men in leafy green shirts rejoicing and celebrating because of their cricketing prowess. But if you happen to be at Dhaka around this time, you may well get to see the above scenes. Such was the joy of the Bangladeshis when their team stunned Sri Lanka to script history at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium at Mirpur in front of a proud Sheikh Haseena, the Bangladesh Prime Minister. For the first time in the history of the Asia Cup, Sri Lanka finished at the bottom of the table with Bangladesh going into the final!

Lots of people had predicted an India-Pakistan final before the Asia Cup, but as the tournament progressed, Bangladesh, backed by massive home-support, emerged as the dark horses on whom Indian hopes were lying on Tuesday. This was because “minnows” Bangladesh had defeated World Cup Champions India in their previous match. Sri Lanka needed to win to make way for India in the finals where Pakistan was waiting for them. But the Tigers denied them the opportunity as they bowled, fielded and batted like a top-class team to seal their berth in the Asia Cup final.

So what is the reason behind this transformation of the Bangladesh cricket team from minnows to an emerging cricketing nation? After a disappointing England tour, not even the most optimistic fan expected such a brilliant turn-around from the team. The man who has caught the eyes is undoubtedly – Tamim Iqbal, who was almost scrapped out of the squad for poor performances. And lo! with three half-centuries in the tournament, Iqbal is definitely the man on whom the team will be banking on in the final! The other heroes for the team have been youngsters like Nasir Hussein and Mahmudullah with former skipper Shakib-al-Hasan being in prime form.

The team which is reeling at the 9th position in the ICC ODI Rankings is getting the better of World Cup finalists India and Sri Lanka! So is this a miracle? The answer probably is : NO! No team can become so good in course of a night. So what’s the reason behind this sudden transformation? Thinking practically, we will come to a single conclusion – the Bangladesh Premier League has done it for them!

The Indian Premier League was introduced in 2008 one year after the humiliating World Cup in 2007. Most of the Indian players participated in it, came under the guidance of seniors and international players, gained experience and emerged to fame for their good performances. And the ultimate result was sweet as well – India won the next World Cup in 2011! The Bangladesh Premier League may have had the same bearing on the national cricket team. Organised just before the Asia Cup, it did succeed in reviving Bangladeshi cricket.

The likes of Tamim Iqbal, Nasir Hussein, Mahmudullah, Musfiqur Rahim and many other local cricketers who took part in the T20 tournament, came under the auspices of experienced campaigners like Chris Gayle, Brad Hodge, Fidel Edwards, Kieron Pollard, Rana Naved who shared their immense experience gained from their long exposure to international cricket. Thus the youngsters got to learn enough which in turn, benefited them as is evident from their spirited performances in the Asia Cup. In spite of the fact that the BPL got overshadowed by the cash-rich IPL, it did lend its goods to Bangladeshi cricket which looks to be on the verge of a renaissance. It will not be long before the tag “minnows” will be removed from their back.

Perhaps, Premier Leagues are the way forward for the “minnows”. It’s high time for cricketing nations to understand this. So get ready for some real cricketing overdose with the likes of Zimbabwe Premier Leagues being likely to be introduced in the near future!

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