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Mustafizur likely to be first pick in BPL draft

Mustafizur Rahman is all smiles during a practice session Associated Press

BPL franchises have populated their squads by signing overseas players before the players' draft takes place on Saturday. They have also retained at least three local players from their 2016 roster while some have added a new icon cricketer.

Since this year's regulations stipulate that a team can field between three and five overseas players in its XI, all the franchises have to pick up several local players from the draft. A franchise should pick a minimum of seven local and two overseas players in the draft.

Mustafizur Rahman is the only local player in Grade A+ ($60,000) and is likely to be a franchise's first pick. Shahriar Nafees and Nazmul Hossain Shanto are going to be sought after among batsmen.

Nafees is in the market after Barisal Bulls was removed from the tournament while Comilla didn't retain Shanto, who has made his Test debut and has already done well in the BCB High Performance team's tours to Australia and England. Teams are likely to eye Jahurul Islam, Shuvagata Hom and Hasanuzzaman among batsmen and Arafat Sunny, Abul Hasan, Abdur Razzak and Abu Hider among bowlers.

Azhar Ali, Dinesh Chandimal, Gary Ballance, Kamran Akmal, Misbah-ul-Haq, Tim Bresnan and Upul Tharanga are the seven overseas players who have been placed in Grade A ($70,000); Jake Ball, Jesse Ryder and Sohail Tanvir, who did decently for Comilla Victorians last year, are in Grade B ($50,000). There are 14 cricketers from Associate nations among the 208 in the foreign players' draft list.

Sylhet have returned to the BPL after a year's gap and although they have signed 10 overseas players in addition to four locals, including Sabbir Rahman as their icon, they have some room left in their squad. They should be looking for middle-order batsmen, spin-bowling allrounders and a pace bowler to support Liam Plunkett, Usman Khan Shinwari and Krishmar Santokie.

Chittagong Vikings too will be a busy table at the draft as they have off-loaded several big names from the 2016 squad. They will need middle-order batsmen as only Sikandar Raza has been signed up, as well as allrounders, specialist spinners and pace bowlers.

At the other end of the scale are defending champions Dhaka Dynamites, who have literally every base covered. They have a strong top order that includes Kumar Sangakkara and Evin Lewis as well as allrounders Shakib Al Hasan, Shane Watson, Kevon Cooper and Shahid Afridi. Spinners Sunil Narine and Graeme Cremer will add to their batting strength too, while a relatively inexperienced pace attack still contains the quality of Mohammad Amir.

Dhaka have so far signed 12 overseas players before the draft, which means they will focus more on picking local players from the draft. According to Obeid Nizam, the Dhaka CEO, they will try to draft a wicketkeeper to deputise for Sangakkara as well as a batsman and a fast bowler.

The 2015 champions Comilla Victorians have filled their squad with nine overseas players and Tamim Iqbal as their icon player. They don't have much to worry about with their top order, having retained Imrul Kayes and Liton Das from last year. Jos Buttler, Marlon Samuels and Shoaib Malik give them a strong middle-order with the likes of Faheem Ashraf, Mohammad Nabi and Mohammad Saifuddin providing big hitting in the final overs. What they need is more specialist spinners and fast bowlers to support the Afghanistan legspinner Rashid Khan and the Pakistan pace duo of Hasan Ali and Imran Khan Jr.

Rangpur Riders have also signed some prominent T20 names from home and abroad; Ravi Bopara, Thisara Perera and David Willey are among the overseas signings. Mashrafe Mortaza signed on as their icon player, but they will need help in the pace and spin departments, and also seem to be light on the middle-order batting.

Khulna Titans should be looking for batsmen, allrounders and spinners as they have a packed pace attack that includes Kyle Abbott, Benny Howell, Junaid Khan and Shafiul Islam. Shadab Khan and Mosharraf Hossain are more than able spinners in these conditions but they might still need a local spinner as back-up. Their top order looks a little light as well, with only Rilee Rossouw and Dawid Malan signed till now.

Rajshahi Kings, meanwhile, must look for specialist spinners, pace bowlers, a back-up wicketkeeper and a spin-bowling allrounder. They have a packed top and middle-order with Mushfiqur Rahim as the fulcrum. Luke Wright and Lendl Simmons will provide the big hitting but they also need someone between Darren Sammy and Samit Patel to lessen their load. Both have been instrumental in successful chases last season. Kesrick Williams and Mohammad Sami could also do with another genuine pace bowler as back-up.