Rangpur Riders have assembled a team befitting defending champions. Mashrafe Mortaza, the newly elected MP, will have eyes on an unprecedented fifth BPL triumph for himself with Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers, Alex Hales, Ravi Bopara and Rilee Rossouw part of his batting arsenal.
All five can’t be picked on the same day, as the Riders will look for control with the ball, too, as they enter the tournament as favourites. To balance out the batting might, they have Mashrafe, Sheldon Cottrell, Abul Hasan and Shafiul Islam in the pace attack, as well as the left-arm spinner Nazmul Islam and offspinner Sohag Gazi.
The Riders have also retained Mohammad Mithun, their best batsman during the league phase last year, apart from signing Nadif Chowdhury, Farhad Reza, Nahidul Islam, Fardeen Hasan, Sean Williams and Mehedi Maruf to ensure that they don’t just rely on the big guns.
In an already well-crafted team, AB de Villiers’ gigantic presence will only make the Riders a stronger unit. It will be a challenge to negotiate Dhaka’s slow pitches but de Villiers also has form on his side, having made an unbeaten 93 in his last game in the Mzansi Super League.
Fardeen Hasan, a graduate from Mashrafe’s cricket academy in Narail, has played five List A matches and one first-class match, and has looked tidy as a left-hand opening batsman.
First XI: 1 Chris Gayle, 2 Alex Hales, 3 Mohammad Mithun (wk), 4 AB de Villiers, 5 Ravi Bopara, 6 Nadif Chowdhury, 7 Sohag Gazi, 8 Abul Hasan, 9 Mashrafe Mortaza (capt), 10 Shafiul Islam, 11 Nazmul Islam.
Rangpur Riders squad: Mashrafe Mortaza, Nazmul Islam, Mohammad Mithun, Chris Gayle, Alex Hales, AB de Villiers, Shafiul Islam, Sohag Gazi, Farhad Reza, Mehedi Maruf, Ravi Bopara, Rilee Rossouw, Nahidul Islam, Nadif Chowdhury, Abul Hasan, Fardeen Hasan, Benny Howell, Sheldon Cottrell, Sean Williams.