Team director Siraj reportedly interfering in Rangers line-up decisions

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The playing eleven initially included wicket-keeper batsman Zakir Hasan, before he was switched out for Shadman Islam upon objection from the opposition team

The Rangpur Rangers have been one of the teams struggling in the points table of the ongoing Bangabandhu Bangladesh Premier League T20. With just one win in five matches, the side is at the bottom. The struggles on the field appear to be taking a toll off of it, with Team Director Enayet Husain Siraj reportedly interfering in decisions of the team management.

The unsettled Rangpur Rangers dressing room was exposed after an incident during their game against Khulna Tigers on Friday. The playing eleven initially included wicket-keeper batsman Zakir Hasan, before he was switched out for Shadman Islam upon objection from the opposition team.

Zakir was taken out of the Rangpur Rangers squad after he sustained an injury on the opening day of the BBPL, and he was replaced by right-arm pacer Mukidul Islam. However, Zakir recovered from the injury in about a week, prompting the team management to attempt to get him back into the squad. 

However, the Khulna Tigers objected as Zakir’s inclusion would have meant that the Rangers would have 13 local cricketers, with a maximum limit of 12. It has been learnt that Rangpur Rangers had emailed the BCB Technical Committee, asking to bring in Zakir in place of batsman Mohammad Al Amin Jr. The request was never approved, but the Rangers team management included Zakir in the starting eleven due to a push from Team Director Siraj.

Subsequently, many claimed that Siraj regularly intervenes in decisions on the playing eleven, over-ruling suggestions from head coach Mark O’Donnell, team advisor Habibul Bashar, other Team Director Akram Khan and the “captains.” 

Afghanistan all-rounder Mohammad Nabi was initially given the captaincy, but he reportedly stepped down after becoming upset with the side’s initial defeats and interference in the decision making. Tom Abell then took charge of the team, but he lost the responsibility to Australian Shane Watson when he joined the side on Friday. 

The Khulna Tigers have returned to winning ways in Bangabandhu @BCBtigers Bangladesh Premier League T20, defeating Rangpur Rangers by 52 runs at Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur, Dhaka Friday.https://t.co/peEyiLrFCi#BCBTIGERS #BCB #TIGERS #BANGLADESHCRICKET #CRICKET

When asked about his alleged interference and dressing room unrest, Siraj said: “Is it a fault for me to take players? The players were taken for the betterment of the team. I do not think there is anything wrong if some needed changes are made to the team recommended by the coaching staff. I have nothing to do if questions are being raised. I have been involved with cricketers for a very long time.”

Regarding Nabi stepping down from the captaincy, Siraj said: “Nabi is a professional cricketer. He thought of stepping down after losing the first three matches. Tom Abell was named captain in place of him and he is doing well. We won a game after Abell was made captain.”

Prior to the BBPL, the BCB had appointed seven of its directors as team directors of the seven teams. Former Bangladesh captain Akram Khan was initially given responsibility for Rangpur and was the brains behind the formation of the squad. However, a day before the tournament began, Siraj was moved from Rajshahi Royals to the Rangpur Rangers by the BCB, as his business Incepta Pharmaceuticals were the sponsors for the Rangers.

Sources said Siraj and Akram do not enjoy good chemistry. Siraj reportedly does not rate the team formed by Akram very highly, while Akram is unhappy with too much interference from Siraj in team decisions. 

“The BCB president [Nazmul Hasan] made me [team] director of this team [Rangpur Rangers] after Incepta became the sponsor. Akram told me he will stay with me and there is no issue at all,” Siraj claimed.