The Chattogram Challengers picked him from the players’ draft. Although this is his first taste of the BPL, playing cricket in Bangladesh is hardly a new thing for Chand.
He first played at the List-A competition Dhaka Premier League in 2016 and since then has returned for a few more seasons. He knows the conditions and the cricketing environment in Bangladesh really well.
This familiarity came to the fore when he spoke, “I have played with a few players from the Chattogram team before in the Premier League (DPL). I know many of them. Whenever I’ve come to Bangladesh, I’ve gotten a lot of love. Whatever I’ve asked for, I’ve got it immediately. In my previous visits here, this feeling of comfort has helped me perform well. I’m hoping that this time it will be the same.”
In the DPL, Chand has batted in nearly all available grounds in Dhaka. But this is his first time in Chattogram.
He has heard from his teammates that the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chattogram is a batting paradise. Hearing that, Chand, naturally, is excited ahead of the Chattogram phase.
“I’ve played at nearly every ground in Dhaka. But I haven’t played in Chattogram. I’ve heard that the wickets here are excellent. As a batsman, this makes me confident.”
In August 2021, Chand retired from Indian cricket and flew to the US in hopes of something new. After the doors of the national team, Indian Premier League (IPL) and his state team Delhi closed on him, he was forced to abandon his dream of playing for India.
It wasn’t an easy decision to make, “It was a really difficult decision. I’ve grown up dreaming of wearing the India cap. Suddenly, that dream was shattered. From another point of view, going to the US has opened up a lot of doors for me. I’m getting to play cricket away from home regularly, which Indian cricketers don’t get to do. I can also play for the US. The US team now is not the team it was five years ago. Now, a lot of good cricketers are coming. More will come in the future. Now, we have to take the game forward over there.”
New cash-rich franchise tournament, Major League Cricket (MLC), is expected to begin at the US this year. The cricket organisers in the US are willing to spend big bucks like the IPL. The US is also the joint host of next year’s ICC Twenty20 World Cup along with the West Indies.
Chand feels that the rate with which cricket is progressing in the US, the country will very soon stun the cricketing world.
“I’ve been in the US for two years. Hopefully, I can play for the US in the 2024 T20 World Cup. The World Cup will also be taking place over there. In the tournament, you will see many talented cricketers in the US team. This year, the Major League Cricket is going to take place. Next year, there will be a World Cup. Everything is going ahead in a really professional manner. American cricket is coming in with some surprises. You will see that very soon.”
Chand feels that MLC can impact cricket in the US like IPL has impacted cricket in India, “Definitely, IPL is the biggest tournament. There is a lot money thrown around there. The biggest cricket stars from around the world play, which makes the IPL competitive. Other countries are also coming up with their own franchise tournament. Maybe, in the future the gulf between the leagues will get shorter. That’s what the Major League Cricket is planning to do. They want to use it to help the US get a firm footing in international cricket, just like IPL has done for India.”
Being under BCCI’s contract has its perks and draw backs. Indian cricketers under BCCI’s contract are not allowed to play in T20 leagues outside of India. Chand wanted to free himself from that restriction and open up his world. He wanted to play in the US and also in franchise leagues in other countries.
Last year, he played for Melbourne Renegades in the Big Bash League. Now, he is at the BPL. Like Chand, many Indian cricketers are also likely seeing dreams of becoming a globetrotter cricketer.
However, Chand dodged the matter, “What’s the point in comparing me with someone else? I have chosen my own path. This is my journey, I have to complete it. But when someone breaks the norm, usually many follow that path.”
If Chand’s words come true, then even BCCI’s lucrative deal might not be enough to keep Indian cricketers from severing ties and taking part in T20 leagues from across the world.
*This report appeared in the print edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten for the English edition by Ashfaq-Ul-Alam Niloy