The Bangladesh Premier League T20 cricket tournament completed the first day of its second phase on Monday with the first two of eight matches in Chittagong. What has already been a drama-filled start to the 2015 campaign — the third edition of the BPL — is about to get even more exciting as a new group of international cricket stars arrive in Bangladesh to join their respective franchises in the league.
Perhaps the best news will come for the struggling Sylhet Super Stars who finally scored their first victory on Monday after dropping all four games in Dhaka to open the competition.
The team captained by Bangladesh Test skipper and wicket-keeper Mushfiqur Rahim is expected to acquire the services of 35-year-old Pakistan legend Shahib "Boom Boom" Afridi, who should be available for Wednesday's match pitting the Super Stars against the BPL Phase two host Chittagong Vikings at Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium.
On Monday, Afridi played in the last of three international T20 matches captaining Pakistan, who lost all three games of their series with England; though, it took a rare Super Over to break a tie after the regulation 20 overs for England to seal the third-match victory.
The last time Afridi played a T20 match in Bangladesh, the Tigers posted a seven wicket win in Dhaka in the only T20 in Pakistan's tour of their subcontinent rival back on April 24 of this year.
In that match, Afridi recorded 12 runs off of 10 balls before being caught behind by the man he will now call captain, Rahim, off a delivery by Mustafizur Rahman, who bowls left-arm pace for Dhaka Dynamite in the BPL. Rahman is scheduled to face Afridi again on December 9 once the tournament returns to Dhaka.
Rahman will be joined on the Dhaka squad by Pakistan seven-footer Mohammad Irfan when the team takes on Barisal Bulls Tuesday, December 1, in the second match of the day.
Another Pakistan superstar, left-arm fast bowler Wahab Riaz, should also see action in the Bangladesh Premier League on Tuesday, just one day after wrapping up his national team's series against England. Wahab should give a boost to the Rangpur Riders, who sit in third place, but are one of four of the league's six teams tied at six points.
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Perhaps the biggest star set to make his 2015 Bangladesh Premier League debut this week is West Indies power hitting lefty batsman Chris Gayle, who becomes available to the second-place Barisal Bulls on Friday.
Fans can get a taste of what to expect from Gayle from the video below, a compilation of some of the big man's biggest sixes over the years.
Gayle is known for putting together explosive innings, such as the double century he scored against Zimbabwe in the 2015 Cricket World Cup in February, and an almost unbelievable 100 off of just 30 balls playing for the Royal Challengers Bangalore of the Indian Premier League in 2013.
Barisal faces Sylhet on December 6 in Dhaka, and Gayle should be in the selected XI for that match and for the remainder of the season — possibly through the BPL final on December 15, if Barisal get there, before Gayle quickly departs for Australia where he will join the Melbourne Renegades of the Big Bash League which opens play on December 17.
Gayle will also take part in the Pakistan Super League, the first edition of Pakistan's T20 franchise tournament, which will actually be held in Doha, Qatar due to ongoing security concerns in Pakistan.
First, Bangaldesh Premier League fans will get the benefit of Chris Gayle, Afridi and the other superstars set to join the fast-paced T20 tournament this week.
[Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images]