On completion of the first phase of the Dhaka Premier League on Tuesday, two interesting names topped the list of achievers -- Mashrafe Bin Mortaza as the leading wicket-taker and India's Ashok Lakshminarayan Menaria as the leading scorer.
At 34 and playing with those bad legs, the right-arm pace bowler leads the wickets column with 30 scalps with two five-fors and as many four-for. Not only that, he led Abahani from the front in their title charge and, more importantly, played all 11 first-phase games without any complaint. It rightly seems too much for a pace bowler who has undergone seven operations on his knees to maintain such high standards at his age.
But it is only possible because it is Mashrafe -- the irrepressible Bangladesh ODI captain who showed how he can still be very effective by compensating for his waning pace with variation and immaculate accuracy in the country's lone List A competition. His stunning performance ensured that Abahani lead the 12-team table with the highest 16 points going into the Super League, which is scheduled to start from March 24.
It is true that the top Bangladesh cricketers missed most of the first phase due to international commitments, but in the games they did play not many national team regulars made an impact in the once very popular domestic competition.
Rajasthan's Ashok Menaira is not a top-order batsman. The left-hander is an all-rounder who bats in the middle-order and a useful left-arm spinner. Still, he scored 570 runs with six fifties including four on the trot. He played a big part for Khelaghar Samaj Kallyan Samity, making it to the Super League for the first time. Legends of Rupganj opener Abdul Mazid occupies the second spot with 563 runs at a healthy average of 53.60. The right-hander hit four fifties against one century.
However, Liton Das was making big statements for Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club until the wicketkeeper-batsman was summoned to serve the national team after playing only five games, in which he scored a stunning 386 runs at an average of 96. The right-hander struck two centuries, including 129 against Mohammedan. Interestingly, it was the only tied game of the League so far.
The Premier League this year has so far passed without controversy and players have hardly complained about the wicket and the umpiring.
Disgraced former national captain Mohammad Ashraful struck three centuries, the most by a player in the League so far. But it is a shame that his team Kalabagan Krira Chakra will be fighting to stay in the flight when the three-team relegation play-off starts on March 25.
It is also a shame for Mohammedan Sporting Club for missing out on the Super League. Trophy-starved for quite some time now, the once-famous team once again paid the price of forming an average team sans star names. It is also a pity that their young left-arm pace bowler Quazi Onik, who finished second behind Mashrafe with 28 wickets, will not be a part of the League this year.