The entire Bangladesh Premier League was made into a farce on Tuesday when the tournament’s governing body, in a late night meeting, ruled Barisal Burners as the fourth semi-finalist instead of Chittagong Kings.
The decision was a complete reverse from the governing council’s previous clarification that said the Kings qualified as semi-finalist by virtue of a better head-to-head record.
Barisal thought they had qualified when they defeated Chittagong in 15 overs, to go ahead in net run rate, but the tournament bylaws seemed to have suggested otherwise.
Having been oblivious of the bylaws, tournament’s official broadcaster and website announced Barisal as the semi-finalist and the franchise were congratulated by all.
But the tournament’s governing council left them shell-shocked when they announced that it will be Kings, not Burners, in the semi-final as head-to-head record will come into force before net run rate.
The clause of 21.8 ( 2) of the bylaws said : ‘When three or more teams finish with equal points and equal wins in the league, then the team(s) which was (were) the winner of the most number of matches played between those equal teams in the league will be placed in the higher position(s).’
Dhaka, Chittagong and Barisal all have secured 10 points and in that count Dhaka have three wins (two against Barisal and one against Chittagong), Chittagong have two wins (one against Dhaka and one against Barisal) while Barisal have just one win against Chittagong.
So, Dhaka and Chittagong joined Rajshahi and Khulna in the semi-final respectively as third and fourth team in the points table.
Gazi Ashraf Hossain, the BPL governing council chairman, came to the press box on Monday and explained the rule to the media which thought to have cleared all confusion.
But another chapter of drama unfolded at midnight when the BPL governing council convened a meeting and reversed their decision.
In a statement issued at 2:45am the governing council said: ‘Three teams – Dhaka Gladiators, Barisal Burners and Chittagong Kings are on equal (10) points. Dhaka Gladiators have most wins from meetings with Barisal Burners and Chittagong Kings and therefore qualify as the 3rd semi-finalist.’
‘With Barisal Burners and Chittagong Kings both having one win against each other, the 4th qualifier had to be decided on the basis of superior net run rate. Barisal edged ahead of Chittagong on net run rate to become the 4th semi-finalist,’ it ruled.
BPL governing council and technical committee regretted any misunderstanding that may have risen regarding this issue, according to this late night statement.
Chittagong in a press conference in the morning said this was a gross violation of the tournament bylaws and claimed the decision was influenced by bookies, who they said have a strong link with BPL officials.
‘We’ve been dropped in defiance of the bylaws. The governing council rule was fixed by mixing the sub-clauses 1 and 2 of clause 21 (8). But a rule can’t be made by taking some parts of different sub-clauses,’ said Sameer Quader Chowdhury, CEO of SQ Sports, which owns the Chittagong Kings, told a media conference at the roof-top of Ruposhi Bangla Hotel.
Ironically, the roof-top of the hotel was allotted to Kings for their team meeting at 11:00am ahead of the semi-final, but instead it had to convene a press conference there on the same period to vent their anger.
‘We have been approached by unknown callers at least three times to fix the matches. All callers seemed to be Indians. We informed this to the ACSU and BPL governing council in written, but we did not get any response,’ he said.
‘Even the man arrested on suspicion the other day was first identified by us,’ he said referring to the arrest of suspected Pakistani bookie Sajid Khan.
‘We have reasons to feel that some other franchisees have got similar kind of offer and many BPL officials are involved. The decision of throwing us out from the semi-final may have been influenced by them,’ he said.
Sameer said if the situation does not improve he will reconsider participating in future editions of BPL.
‘The entire tournament has now become tainted with this decision. We have invested a lot in this tournament. If this trend continues, we will not participate from the next edition,’ said Sameer.
Nasir Ahmed, the manager of Chittagong Kings, said they were victim of a conspiracy.
‘We were waiting for the Dhaka match to be completed. Once they lost we knew we are through. But all of a sudden we came to know from a source that there is a meeting of the technical committee and we are about to the excluded,’ he said.
‘We rushed to the stadium and on arrival we were given a letter at 2:19am which said Barisal are through to semi-final and we are out. We were stunned as this could not happen according to bylaws,’ he said.
Nasir alleged that Barisal had around 25 musclemen present at the BCB office during the technical committee meeting and they threatened them of a dire consequence once they refused to accept the decision of the governing council.
He showed two different points tally from BPL website which one time said Chittagong Kings are in the semi-final and another time said Barisal Burners are in the semi-final.
In the first tally the head-to-head record of teams with equal points was displayed, but it has vanished from other tally.
When BPL technical committee was holding a meeting, the BCB president AHM Mustafa Kamal was congratulating them for qualifying in the semi-final in a private television channel talk show.
Kamal also wished Barisal good luck for the next season, which suggested the BCB president was fully convinced about the Chittagong Kings’ position. But within an hour the BPL governing council reversed their position, which Kings officials said a double standard.
‘I think everybody should respect the bylaws. But now what happened is a disgrace for our cricket,’ said Khaled Mahmud, Chittagong Kings coach and a former national captain.
Knowing that they would be playing in the semi-final, Chittagong recruited Pakistan’s Umar Akmal and Wahab Riaz, who both arrived in Dhaka in the same flight with some other players for other franchises.
Three other semi-finalists Dhaka Gladiators, Duronto Rajshahi and Khulna Royal Bengals- also have expressed their solidarity with Chittagong Kings.
Dhaka manager Shafiqul Haq Heera was present in the dais during the press conference while Khulna manager Zahid Razzak Masum and Rajshahi manager Faruque Ahmed also turned up.
Masum and Faruque however did not speak to the press and were happy to ensure their physical presence. Heera termed the entire development an unfortunate thing for cricket and said this should not have happened.
‘Everyone should follow the bylaws. If that does not happen then it’s very unfortunate,’ he said.
Kings also moved to the court on the issue and had been waiting for a directive.
-With New Age input