Steve Smith, David Warner make Bangladesh Premier League debut

Steve Smith and David Warner, the banned Australian cricketers, amass just 30 runs between them as new captains of their respective sides.

Fresh start: Steve Smith (left) and David Warner at a Bangladesh Premier League match on Sunday in Dhaka.   -  AFP

Banned Australian cricketers David Warner and Steve Smith made a low-scoring debut in the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) on Sunday, amassing just 30 runs between them as newly-minted skippers in the Twenty20 league.

The duo, who are serving international bans for ball tampering, faced off in the BPL opener in Dhaka, with Smith’s Comilla Victorians edging Warner’s Sylhet Sixers by four wickets. Their debut as foreign stars in the lucrative T20 franchise came as Australia’s Test cricketers in Sydney stared down defeat against a ruthless India.

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Warner hit off-spinner Mahedi Hasan for three sixes in one over at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium before a mix-up saw him run out for 14 off 13 balls. Warner ran for a single after his partner Towhid Hridoy pushed Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik towards square leg. But Hridoy did not respond and both batsmen were caught at the same end as Malik dismantled the stumps.

Controversial decision

The third umpire declared Warner out but replays indicated the Australian reached the striking end before his partner ground his bat back to the crease. “I didn’t see what happened. But apparently I was in,” Warner said after the match.

“If you are standing behind the camera and you miss a decision like that, I don’t know. I can’t speak on their behalf of the one who makes the decision. If I wasn’t out, I wasn’t out. I have to accept the decision,” he stated.

Steve Smith gestures during the BPL contest at the Shere-e-Bangla Stadium in Dhaka on Sunday. Photo: AFP

 

Smith, meanwhile, was declared caught from behind for 16 off 17 balls after the Sixers reviewed a not-out decision given by the on-field umpire. The third umpire had to rely on sound from the bat to make his decision, with no snickometre or ultra-edge technology available at the Dhaka ground.

The Afridi boost

Smith had Shahid Afridi to thank for his side’s win after the Pakistani batsman struck 39 off 25 balls to elevate Comilla to 130 for 6 in the penultimate delivery of its innings.

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The presence of Smith and Warner, banned from internationals and Australian domestic cricket after admitting to ball tampering in the South Africa test last March, is expected to be a major draw for the BPL. “It is great to see both of us out here leading the teams,” Warner said of Smith after the match.

“We will try to give much knowledge to the younger players and feed off the experienced people,” he added.