Mashrafe is a game changer, says Safwan Sobhan Tasvir

Rangpur Riders, a franchise cricket team based in Rangpur, completed on Sunday their most crucial contract signing with Bangladesh’s limited-overs skipper Mashrafee bin Mortaza for the upcoming Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) Season Five.

In a gala signing ceremony, the most-anticipated contract signing was held at the conference room of East West Media Group at the capital’s Bashundhara residential area where Mashrafe Mortaza and Safwan Sobhan Tasvir, vice-chairman of Bashundhara Group and Managing Director of Rangpur Riders, officially signed the agreement on behalf of their respective sides.

Ishtiaque Sadeque, chief executive officer of Rangpur Riders, Anwarul Iqbal, its manager, and Nazmul Abedin Fahim, chief mentor of Rangpur Riders and national manager of BCB Game Development, also attended the function.

Speaking to media, the Rangpur Riders managing director hails Mashrafe and expressed his desire to go ahead with Rangpur riders under the leadership of Mashrafe.

“This is going to be our very first journey in BPL. We’ve high hopes.

We’re really lucky and delighted to get such a brilliant captain with us. Mashrafe is a game changer. We (Bashundhara Group) have always been a game changer in every field. As we are coming to the BPL first time, we are going to change the things around us,” said Safwan Sobhan Tasvir said.Rangpur Riders, one of the popular cricket sensations of the prestigious Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) T20, started its fresh journey this year under the care of country’s leading industrial and business conglomerate –  Bashundhara Group- after a successful patronisation deal done last May. The team is currently owned by Sohana Sports. Vice-chairman of Bashundhara Group and  President of Lt. Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club Limited Safwan Sobhan Tasvir officially took over Sohana Sports Limited as managing director.

Asked Mashrafe about his feeling to have a new team, Mashrafe said he is happy with some notable hands in the team.

“I want to thank Rangpur Franchise to choose me. I think I got a number of guides with me. Nazmul Abedin Fahim sir is with us. And this is a positive sign. We can consult together on various issues. Mohammad Rafiq will also join us. We have Tom Moody, one of the best coaches in modern cricket, with us. I hope we’ll be able to give our best on field. If we can play positive cricket in maximum days, the result will favour us,” Mashrafe said.

Rangpur has already confirmed Caribbean monster Chris Gayle, his fellow citizens Johnson Charles and Samuel Badree, England T20 specialist Ravi Bopara and Sri Lankan T20 expert Thisara Perera. They are also talking to Aussie opener David Warner and Pakistan all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez.

But the biggest decision of Rangpur Riders came on last Friday evening when they confirmed country’s all-time best skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza for upcoming BPL Season Five.

In the previous two BPL editions, Mashrafe led Comilla Victorians. Comilla clinched their first ever BPL title in 2015 under the leadership of Mashrafe. But he faced some obstacles to maintain his team in 2016 season when he was with Comilla. That time Comilla failed to book semi-final berth. As a result, Comilla owner unofficially blamed Mashrafe for the misery. On the other hand, Rangpur Riders were eager to get Mashrafe. In the situation, Mashrafe, however, did not waste time as he decided to move to Rangpur. Mashrafe had also led the Dhaka Gladiators to the 2012 and 2013 BPL titles.

Eight teams are participating in the upcoming BPL Season Five. But the fact is the BPL Governing Council believes that despite the increase in number of teams, there won’t increase the number of quality local players, as the BPL committee wants to give the participating teams to allow five foreign players to play. But Rangpur Riders alongside three other franchises opposed the issue.

“We (Rangpur Riders) alongside four franchises want to give more opportunities to local cricketers. If five foreign cricketers play, local cricketers will be deprived. I don’t know what BPL committee will finally decide,” Ishtiaque Sadeque, the chief executive officer (CEO), said.

When asked about the issue, Mashrafe said that four overseas players in best XI will help the local cricketers to draw some attention in such a big stage.

“Actually BPL is a platform for local cricketers. This is a real stage to prove their prowess. Four overseas players mean seven local cricketers in a team. Altogether 100 local cricketers will be benefited if four overseas players are allowed. Then we will get more backup players,” Mashrafe said.