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Old December 28, 2011, 11:06 AM
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the daily star; dhaka
http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesig...php?nid=215959
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Stage set for Dhaka drama
Sports Reporter
The players will tell you that the pressure created by club officials is at one of the highest points in the barometer.

The umpires will tell the difference between the officials who hold a grudge and the one who resorts to physical violence after a leg-before decision.

The club officials will tell you that they are the meat in the sandwich, having to deal with donors' sky-high expectations and the anxiety of dealing with players.

These three are the protagonists in the combative world of the Dhaka Premier Division Cricket League which will be the focus of the cricket fraternity from tomorrow when it begins.

The 2011-12 season has already stirred the debate on its importance to Bangladesh cricket but the money invested on players has simply multiplied from last season. From the four-team dominance over the decades, this season has at least nine clubs that have spent more than Tk 2 crore to build their desired line-up.

All this money-spinning has the potential to make the top players seem like mercenaries but for a couple of experienced campaigners, it is more about passion than the big bucks.

Mohammad Ashraful and Shahriar Nafees, who will play for Old DOHS and Prime Doleshwar, have seen the highs and lows of the league; from the pressures of dealing with big club supporters to the high-budgeted small clubs who aspire to be the best.

"People talk about the first-class competition needing improvement. I agree with that but at the same time, the real pressure is felt in the Premier League. Every year the competition gets tougher. Making runs, winning games and the expectations of the club officials just make it a challenging environment," said Ashraful.

Nafees's main source of enjoyment in the Premier League is when he performs, since the league is followed by everyone concerned, and quite closely.

"I have been watching the Premier League since I was a kid. I really enjoy playing this competition and now it is more enjoyable because everyone stays in the radar," he said.

As the main batsman in his team, the left-hander will have to cater to a lot of expectations of a club that wants to make it to the Super League. Nafees believes that with a young team, this is a plausible target. "It is a young team but our primary goal would be to play in the Super League. I think the league this year will be quite competitive since three foreign players will play in a game," he added.

Ashraful lamented that the surplus of international matches on television has robbed the Premier League of fans, though he believes the best school to learn pressure is the ultimate match itself.

Abahani versus Moha-mmedan is still a few weeks away but this year, the big game won't tilt the balance of the Premier League. The presence of so many high-budgeted teams have made sure that there are several battles good enough to salivate over.

The players, umpires and, of course, the club officials are eagerly awaiting a Premier League that could be one of the best of all time.
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