BCL begins on Thursday

Ref: The Bangladesh Cricket League (BCL) begins on Thursday as a franchise-backed regional competition with a focus on bringing more leverage to longer-version cricket.

Walton Central Zone will take on Prime Bank South Zone at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur. In the other match, Islami Bank East Zone face BCB North Zone at the Shaheed Chandu Stadium in Bogra.

Central are made up of players from Dhaka Metropolis and Dhaka Division, South’s players are from Khulna Division and Barisal Division, East has players from Sylhet Division and Chittagong Division while Rajshahi and Rangpur players will play for North.

“This is eventually going to be the prime first-class tournament in Bangladesh,” Naimur Rahman, the BCB’s tournament committee chairman, told ESPNcricinfo.

“We have only considered the performers from this season’s National Cricket League (NCL), and this tournament will have better competition and a higher standard.

“Our intention is to make the first-class structure stronger, because without it, we cannot expect development of cricket.”

The tournament came into being only after the NCL could not get enough franchises after the BCB had decided to change its make-up earlier this year. As a result, the NCL continued in the usual format and this new tournament took shape. Three of the four franchises have gained sponsors but the northern region is yet to get a buyer, though the BCB is hopeful someone will pick it up during the tournament.

The tournament will be of single league format with each team playing three games each, all before Bangladesh’s potential tour to Pakistan. The five-day final, set to be played with a pink ball under lights in Mirpur, will be held after the BPL Twenty20s in mid-February.

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