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It was an eventful lead up to the Bangladesh Premier League for the Comilla Victorians' as well as Steven Smith's fans with a lot of controversies showing up due to BCB's ever-changing rulebook where Comilla Victorians were allowed the opportunity to rope in a player(SPD Smith) outside of the initial draft. All confusion was finally settled and much to the delight of the fans, Steven Smith is set to feature in Bangladesh Premier League with Comilla Victorians taking on Sylhet Sixers on 6th January. The match will be played at Shere Bangla National Stadium, Dhaka. Both the sides will be looking to get off to a winning start and get an early lead in the tournament which can happen to be crucial towards the back-end of the tournament.
Steven Smith hasn't been playing a lot of competitive cricket barring Australia's grade Cricket and a couple of T20 leagues where he wasn't really up to the mark. The fans will have to wait for another week as Smith hasn't yet joined the squad.
Although the unavailability of Steven Smith is a big void to fill, the Victorians shouldn't be too worried considering the army of experienced batsmen they have. They have Tamim Iqbal, Shoaib Malik, and Imrul Kayes in their batting lineup which they retained for this season. Along with them, they'll also have the services of Shahid Afridi and Evin Lewis with both of them being available from the first match. Thisara Perera is away on international duty and will join the squad in around a week's time.
Evin Lewis smashed a brilliant fifty in the last match of West Indies tour of Bangladesh and his recent exposure to Bangladeshi conditions will come in handy for him at the top of the order. With the likes of Abu Hider Rony, Ziaur Rahman, Liam Dawson, and Mohammad Saifuddin, they have their bowling covered as well.
The Victorians finished at the top of the points table last year with nine wins in 12 matches before they were knocked out of the competition to finish third. They'll be looking to go all the way this time around and will be keen to get their campaign off to a flying start.
Evin Lewis, Tamim Iqbal, Anamul Haque, Steven Smith, Imrul Kayes, Mahedi Hasan, Shoaib Malik, SMSK Afridi, Mohammad Saifuddin, Abu Hider, M Shahid.
The Sixers are the newest team of the Bangladesh Premier League and made their debut last year where they narrowly missed a playoff spot as they finished fifth with nine points from 12 matches.
The Sixers roped-in David Warner for this season who will also lead this side which features some of the most talented players in the T20 circuit. Sandeep Lamichhane has already impressed one and all with his impressive performances in IPL and BBL and will be looking to extend his good run in Bangladesh as well.
With David Warner and Liton Das likely to open the innings, Sixers' middle order appears to be lacking experience. They have Andre Fletcher and Nicholas Pooran available to play in the middle-order, but the lack experience of playing in subcontinent conditions may affect the duo's batting.
The Sixers, however, have beefed up their bowling attack and is capable of destroying any batting lineup on their day. Along with Mohammad Irfan, Taskin Ahmed, and Sandeep Lamichhane, they'll have the options to pick from Mohammad Nawaz and Imran Tahir. Pat Brown was a revelation in Vitality T20 Blast as he single-handedly took his team to the title win with his consistently aggressive and disciplined performances. It will be interesting to see how he fares on Bangladeshi surfaces which aren't known to assist quick bowlers.
All in all, due to the lack of experienced middle-order players, the Sixers might have some trouble in finding the appropriate combination right from the first game. However, they certainly cannot be underestimated with David Warner as a captain and a powerful bowling attack.
David Warner, Liton Das, Nicholas Pooran, Alok Kapali, Sabbir Rahman, Afif Hossain, Al-Amin Hossain, Towhid Hridoy, Sandeep Lamichhane, Mohammad Irfan, Taskin Ahmed.
David Warner has been an inspirational captain for Sunrisers Hyderabad in the IPL he will be looking to take his team off to a winning start in his first BPL stint. With a rather inexperienced middle-order, the Sixers might find it difficult to get their combination right in the opening match. The Sixers also have a tough opponent to face in Comilla Victorians who appear to be a better-balanced and a more settled side. Considering the balance of the squads, and form of the players, we think that the Victorians are firm favorites to emerge victorious at Dhaka on Sunday.