The whole sporting arena has been hit by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. But amid this, the Bangabandhu Dhaka Premier League (BDPL) kicked off on Sunday.
In his first-ever match for Abahani, skipper Mushfiqur Rahim scored a brilliant 127-run knock to lead Abahani to an 81-run victory against Partex Sporting Club at Mirpur.
In the other two matches, Old DOHS Sports Club beat Legends of Rupgonj by 25 runs whereas Prime Doleshwar secured a nerve-racking eight-run win against Brothers Union.
In the match at Mirpur, courtesy of skipper Mushfiq's hundred, Mosaddek Hossain's fifty and Mohammad Saifuddin's late cameo, Abahani managed to post a strong total of 289-7 against Partex Sporting Club after winning the toss.
Their hopes of scoring big batting first soon perished as they lost both their openers, Liton Das and Naim Sheikh, for a duck. It was a surprise considering Liton's recent international outings where he scored loads of runs.
Within the 22nd over, Abahani were down to 67-5 as Nazmul Hossain Shanto, Aminul Islam Biplob and Afif Hossain were sent back too. But from there on, Mushfiq and Mosaddek put on a 160-run stand to bring the Dhanmondi-based club back into the game.
Before Mushfiq was sent back by Partex's most impressive bowler Jaynul Islam, Mushfiqur scored 127 off 124 deliveries, consisting of 11 fours and four sixes. Mosaddek also brought his fifty up and scored 61 before getting dismissed.
Saifuddin put up a show in the death overs as he scored 39 off just 15 deliveries, hitting five sixes.
And in reply, none of Partex's batsmen except Nazmul Hossain Milon managed to cross the 50-mark. And expectedly, that led to them getting bowled out for 208 and succumbing to an 81-run defeat.
After being adjudged man of the match, Mushfiq asked the fans to stay aware of the pandemic.
"I would like to give out a message to the cricket-lovers in Bangladesh that they stay aware and make sure that they sit keeping a bit of space. As much as you can do because if someone gets affected others might get it too. So, I think they must stay aware," Mushfiq said.
During the match, Mushfiq was seen to both avoid and do handshakes. Not doing it looked like a precaution for coronavirus but doing it was putting up questions on it. Mushfiq cleared up the matter saying that he forgot about the precautionary measures at times and that is what led to the handshakes.
"I forget that (not shaking hands) sometimes (laughs). It is yet to become a habit. Everyone is worried. We need to stay as aware as we can. It will take a bit of time to set up this habit," he said.
There were precautions about the coronavirus outbreak from the team management, Mushfiq informed. He said, "We were forbidden to spit on the ball, shake hands. We were asked to keep some space among us while gathering, we used one water bottle each during the drinks breaks, there were hand sanitizers. We are trying to play with as much awareness as we can."
He added that it was great to get off to a winning start as everyone was nervous before the first game of the season. He said, "Feeling great (after the match). It was the first match for the team, so everyone was a bit nervous. Being a champion team, there would be pressure (on Abahani). Either it is a big team or a small team, Abahani always plays for a win. At the end of the day, the team won and thanks to Almighty for that."
Abahani will play their next match on March 18, 2020, against Old DOHS at Fatullah.