The 2015 Bangladesh Premier League T20 cricket championship playoff picture is nearly complete, as the star-packed tournament moves into its final two days of group stage play in Dhaka. But even as excitement builds for the four-team playoff round that gets underway Saturday, questions about the state of pitches at Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur, where all BPL remaining matches will be played, have cast a shadow over the competition.
While the pitch in Chittagong where eight Bangladesh Premier League matches took place last week appeared to offer enough on both sides of the ball, the Dhaka pitch has shown a strong tendency to favor bowlers, and the team who bats first has been left at a significant disadvantage.
In the Chittagong phase of this year’s BPL, team batting in the first innings averaged 140 runs. But when the competition moved back to Dhaka on Sunday, those first-innings totals plunged by a dizzying 51 runs on average.
This innings included a BPL record low 58 by the Barisal Bulls against the Sylhet Super Stars on Sunday, followed by Sylhet nearly equaling that dubious record the next day, posting just 59 in a first innings against Rangpur Riders, who coasted to an eight-wicket victory inside of 10 overs.
Comilla Victorians, who clinched their playoff spot by chasing down a first-innings total of just 105 by Barisal on Monday, have scored four of their six victories when they won the toss and chose to bat first, according an ESPN Cricinfo report.
“It is hard to score runs when you try to force it,” Comilla Captain Mashrafe Mortaza told ESPN Cricinfo. “These wickets are very unpredictable. Every team is looking to field first. Maybe they pulled in the boundary ropes because we were playing on the wicket on the other corner but it might also be to increase the run-making. But it is still very hard for the batsmen.”
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Rangpur Riders on Tuesday became the first of the six BPL teams to complete their 10-game schedule, finally finding something in a first-inning pitch to post a more realistic score of 153. Rangpur bowlers then bowled out the Victorians for 132, led by a three-wicket haul by 26-year-old Sri Lanka international Thisara Perera who took just 2.5 overs to get it done.
Watch full highlights from the Riders vs. Victorians match in the video below.
Rangpur finishes with 14 points from their 10 games, but must wait to find out where they’ll place in the four-game playoff, as they still lie within striking distance of both the Victorians and Bulls.
Comilla plays on Wednesday, December 9, against the cellar-dwelling Chittagong Vikings, whose Tamim Iqbal-captained squad was perhaps the worst disappointment of the 2015 BPL season. The Vikings need a win just to get to six points, but are mathematically eliminated from playoff contention.
But if Comilla can grab the victory on Wednesday, they move into a tie on points with Rangpur atop the Bangladesh Premier League table. But Comilla would need a net run rate better than +0.164, plus a victory, to overtake the Riders and earn a bye directly into the BPL championship final on December 15.
Barisal, on the other hand, has two games remaining and must win both — with a net run rate over +0.878 — to finish in first place.
The final playoff spot appears likely to go to the Dhaka Dynamites, who would clinch that berth with a victory over Sylhet on Wednesday.
The only scenario under which the Super Stars, skippered by Bangladesh test captain Mushfiqur Rahim, could make the playoffs would see them beating Dhaka on Wednesday, as well as Comilla on Thursday, the final day of the 2015 Premier League group stage.
At the same time, the Dynamites would need to lose their final game against Barisal on Thursday. The Super Stars would then tie Dhaka on points, and hope for the best in the net run rate tie breaker.
— Bangladesh Cricket (@BCBtigers) December 8, 2015
To find out how to watch all remaining Bangladesh Premier League 2015 matches, including the playoffs and championship final, streaming live online, see the information at this link.
[Featured Photo By Bangladesh Cricket Board]