Why Indian cricketers are playing in the Dhaka Premier League
Hailing from the city of Udaipur, the left-handed Ashok Menaria was captain of the U-19 Indian team that toured Australia in 2009. He got a contract with the Royal Challengers Bangalore, and subsequently the Rajasthan Royals. Destined for big things, he played under Shane Warne, and had a crucial role to play for his franchise. Yet, he faded away from the IPL, and has been plying his trade in the Dhaka Premier League this year.
A number of Indians are taking to the Dhaka Premier League to extend their cricket careers, after a snub from the national side, or after not getting enough chances in the IPL. The concept of Club cricket is slowly gaining ground amidst a number of franchise-based leagues that have cropped up after the roaring success of the Indian Premier League.
What exactly is the Dhaka Premier League, and why is it diverting an exodus away from international cricket?
The Dhaka Premier League is a List A club cricket tournament in Bangladesh, that has been going on every year since the 1974-75 season. It is played on a round-robin basis, with 12 teams vying for the number one spot
The players are assigned to a particular club based on a lottery system, which is different from a franchise based system where players are bought as part of an auction. It is essentially a competition between clubs based in the capital city, and has been luring cricketers from across the world, right from the 90s, even when Bangladesh was trying to find its feet in international cricket. Indians like Kapil Dev, Raman Lamba,Yuvraj Singh and Ajay Jadeja once played in the league which has clubs owned by local industrialists. Since the league has been here for years, the rivalry between clubs is also prevalent, with the Abahani Limited (or Abahani Krira Chakra), the most successful club with 17 titles, and rivals Mohammad Sporting, with nine titles, to follow.
The run charts are currently being led by Shamsur Rahman, a right-handed opening batsman who last played for Bangladesh in 2014. Players like Alok Kapali and Abdur Razzak, who were key members of the national side in the previous decade, are playing for one of the clubs in the league. The league features a number of Indian players too.
Recently, Manoj Tiwary, who has been battling injuries, irregular form and poor luck in general, was snubbed from the IPL auction this year, taking to this league to continue playing the game. He has played only 15 international matches since his debut, which was itself a delayed one, in 2008. Having crossed 30, he knows his chances of representing the country are diminishing quickly, having last played a T20I for Indian in 2012, and an ODI in 2015. The lack of an IPL contract is a big blow to his prospects with the Indian team, and the decision to play for Abahani Limited is one that was made after the IPL snub.
Manvinder Bisla, who was adjudged the Man of the Match in the 2012 IPL finals, also joined the DPL, along with Rajat Bhatia, the 36-year old Ranji veteran, who performed well in the initial matches for Pune in the IPL this season. With the campaign on the down, Dhoni chose youngsters for the remainder of the season, and Bhatia was shelved to the sidelines.
The BCCI makes sure that its players are limited to playing in the Indian Premier League, as far as T20 leagues are concerned. It does not issue NOCs to players to take part in other leagues, with no participation in leading competitions like the Big Bash league. Recently, the BCCI allowed its players to participate in List A tournaments across the world, and the Dhaka Premier League, which had been losing charm, was benefitted. With NOCs in hand from the BCCI, club leagues like these are a safe bet for such players, as a chance for representing India is not lost.
Yusuf Pathan, who shone in the KKR colors this IPL season, was ignored by the selectors for the imminent tour of Zimbabwe. With age not on his side, Pathan decided to jump the boat and settle for a contract with the Abahani Limited. He had the second best average in the IPL this season, next to only Virat Kohli, and scored 361 runs in 15 matches. Having last played for India in 2012, and with younger legs hogging the middle order, Pathan, who’ll turn 34 this year, will find it difficult to force his way back.
The other players from India who are part of the league include Jatin Saxena, a 33-year old leg-spinner from Madhya Pradesh. His brother, Jalaj Saxena, who has been consistently performing well for Madhya Pradesh with both bat and ball, but hasn’t been given the national cap is also part of the lot. He has starred with impressive all-round performances for four consecutive years now, and was recently conferred the Lala Amarnath award for his Ranji trophy performances.
With age catching up with these fringe players, leagues like these serve an easy way to earn quick money and maintain their grip on the game.