An 8-team IPL-style T20 league is being scheduled to be hosted by the Cricket Association of Bengal in December 2016, as has been divulged by Sourav Ganguly. It is expected that there shall be several high-profile names involved in the event, as there will be a provision for including three players in the team from outside Bengal.
After the spurt of similar T20 leagues like the Karnataka Premier League and the Tamil Nadu Premier League, which is also scheduled to be held later this year, it seems as if the Bengal Premier League will soon be a reality.
Ganguly, who is presently in Bengaluru for the Board’s technical committee meeting, said that the league would consist of eight teams, five of which franchises have already been finalised. There is a process ongoing to identify franchise owners for the three remaining slots.
He also explained that this league will be held for a two-week duration every year, starting from the last week of December.
"Five franchises have already been finalised and the other three will be done shortly. It will be played under lights and the players will have to be bought at the auction," Sourav said.
Unlike the TNPL, which plans to feature teams only from Chennai for its first season, Bengal’s T20 league will involve the districts apart from Kolkata from the first season onwards.
As per the Board's rules, no player outside India will be allowed to take part. But star T20 players from around the country can be expected to turn up for the event. To have a T20 league starting from the last week of December is a strategic masterstroke, the kind which Sourav Ganguly was famous for as a captain and is increasingly making a reputation for himself as an administrator.
The proposed BPL would be the perfect preparation for players before the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, India’s premier domestic T20 competition, which starts on the first week of January.
Wriddhiman Saha, Ashok Dinda and Mohammed Shami were the only Bengal players to have featured in the IPL 9, and Ravi Shastri recently said that Bengal do not produce enough quality players. If Ganguly’s plan works out, that might be changed drastically in a few more years.