The Bangladesh Premier League 2015 cricket playoffs are here, and fans can watch all four of the most important games in the T20 tournament live online Saturday and Sunday. The tournament starts with a doubleheader that features a matchup of two Bangladesh international superstars, Mashrafe bin Mortaza captaining the first-place Comilla Victorians, and Shakib Al Hasan who skippers the Rangpur Riders, who placed second.
While Shakib comes into the match leading his team from the front, tied for the BPL 2015 lead with 17 wickets, Mashrafe has been forced to fight through a painful hamstring injury to reach the first-round playoff qualifier.
"If it was the national team, I wouldn't have played," Mashrafe told The Dhaka Tribune on Friday. "But franchises here, they have expectations and they know my current situation. These small injuries made me suffer a lot in the past. My team owners just want me to stay on and lead within my limitations and that's what I am doing."
Also in doubt for Comilla heading into the playoffs are West Indies star Andre Russell and former Pakistan Captain Shoaib Malik. According to Tamim, Russell will play in the qualifier, but may not be available for Sunday's games, while Malik has already taken eight of the 10 painkilling injections allowed to him under BPL rules.
The winner of the Comilla vs. Rangpur Riders match gets a free pass straight to Sunday's Bangladesh Premier League 2015 final, where they will play for the third championship of the high-powered T20 tournament.
The winning team of the second match — the "eliminator" — then faces the loser of the earlier Comilla vs. Rangpur game in Sunday's first match. The winner of that contest advances to the final later that day.
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Watch live streaming of both Saturday matches in the video below. Or, as an alternative, see the streaming info in the final paragraph of this article. The Comilla Victorians vs. Rangpur Riders match is scheduled to get underway at 2 p.m. local time at Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Dhaka. That's 3 a.m. Eastern Time in the United States, midnight Pacific. Barisal Bulls vs. Dhaka Dynamites follows from the same venue at 6:30 p.m. local time, or 7:30 a.m. U.S. Eastern Time, 4:30 a.m. Pacific.
The Rangpur Riders go into the qualifier match as clear favorites to win the bye straight to the final, with an internationally-flavored bowling attack that stars not only Shakib, but Pakistan pacer Wahab Riaz, West Indies star Darren Sammy, and Sri Lanka quick Thisara Perera.
In the eliminator match, Sangakkara himself must lead the batting attack, after finishing the 10-game group stage as the only 2015 BPL batsman to top 300 runs — though Chittagong Vikings Captain Tamim Iqbal, opener for the Bangladesh national side as well, sat out the season's final game. Otherwise, Tamim would likely have broken 300 as well.
Those two batsmen along with another Sri Lanka international, Tillakaratne Dilshan, were the only Bangladesh Premier League players to break the 200-run barrier in the 2015 season.
To watch the Comilla Victorians vs. Rangpur Riders and Barisal Bulls vs. Dhaka Dynamites Bangladesh Premier League 2015 T20 cricket playoff games live online from Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Dhaka, go to ESPN3, the online-only channel in the ESPN network, which will carry the games live at this link. ESPN3 will carry all four Bangladesh Premier League playoff games, two on Saturday, December 12, and two on Sunday, December 13. The ESPN3 streaming channel is free to subscribers of most major internet service providers and many minor ISPs, as well. For a full list, check this link.
[Featured Photo via Bangladesh Cricket Board]