CAB officials announcing the Bengal Pro T20 League. Photo courtesy:

Almost 17 years after India lifted the T20 World Cup and paving a way for the Indian Premier League and the subsequent popularity of twenty-twenty cricket matches, the Cricket Association of Bengal is all set to start its own domestic league of the shortest internationally recognised format of the game. It couldn’t have come at a better time as the Kolkata Knight Riders won the recently concluded edition of the IPL. This will surely add to the league’s fervour.

CAB officials announcing the Bengal Pro T20 League. Photo courtesy:

Named the Bengal Pro T20 League, the tournament will start from June 11, and feature both men’s and women’s matches. Eight franchise-based teams, akin to the IPL, will take part in the league. While the men will battle it out at the iconic Eden Gardens, home to the CAB, the eves will get to showcase their skills at the Jadavpur University ground in Saltlake.

The inaugural game will see Servotech Siliguri Strikers take on Harbour Diamonds at 7 pm on Tuesday. The match will be preceded by an opening ceremony. The same franchises will also lock horns as the women play their first match on June 12. The first women’s match will start at 9 am.

The USP of the new league is the inclusion of the women’s tournament. By virtue of this, CAB has become the first state cricket board to have a state-level women’s T20 competition. Earlier, states like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and the Uttar Pradesh have all floated T20 leagues for men.

Who are the teams and which districts do they represent?

There are eight teams, as stated above. These eight franchises will represent multiple districts in the state.

Adamas Warriors– Owned by the Rice Adamas Group, the franchise will represent Bankura, Purulia and Howrah.

Harbour Diamonds– The two Parganas, North 24 Parganas and South 24 Parganas, will get a representation from these GD Sports-owned teams.

Lux Shyam Kolkata Tigers– As the name suggests, this franchise, owned by Lux Industries and Shyam Steel, is Kolkata and Hoogly based.

Murshidabad Kings– Jointly owned by Pritam Electricals and Jalan Builders, Murshidabad Kings will represent Murshidabad and Nadia districts.

Rarh Tigers– Shrachi Sports Ventures’ Rarh Tigers will be the flagbearers of Paschim Bardhaman, Purba Bardhaman, and Birbhum districts.

Rashmi Medinipur Wizards– The Wizards will represent Paschim Medinipur, Purba Medinipur and Jhargram districts. Rashmi Group owns the franchise.

Servotech Siliguri Strikers– People from the northern Bengal districts of Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, Cooch Behar, Alipurduar, and Kalimpong are likely to cheer for this franchise, owned by Servotech Power Systems.

Sobisco Smashers Malda– This franchise from the title sponsors will represent Uttar Dinajpur, Dakshin Dinajpur, and Malda districts. The franchise is owned by Sona Biscuits.

Format, squad

The format of the tournament will follow the league-and-knockout system. A total of 31 matches each for men and women will be played between June 11 and June 28. Both the men’s and women’s finals will be played at the Eden Gardens.

A total of 264 cricketers will fight for top prizes in the league. The men’s squad will feature 17 players, which the women’s squad will feature 16 players. All the players are CAB affiliated and comprises club level, state level and international level players.

Who are the Indian international players taking part?

Wriddhiman Saha, who guarded the stumps for team India in Test Cricket after Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s retirement from the longest format, is one of the international players taking part. Wriddhiman, who is a part of Rashmi Medinipur Wizards, said, “In cricket there’s win and loss and every team has to accept that. I would want our opponents to lose every match, but we’ll also have to be ready for such a result.”

Pacer Akash Deep, who made his international Test debut against England in the 4th test on 23 February 2024, will turn up for Servotech Siliguri Strikers.

Allrounder Shahbaz Ahmad will look to inspire his Rarh Tigers teammates with his international experience, having made his India debut in 2022.

Pacer Mukesh Kumar, who received his maiden India Test cap in July 2023, is the marquee player for Sobisco Smashers Malda.

Not just the men, even the women league will see participation from Indian international players.

Endorsed by Indian legend Jhulan Goswami, the league will see wicketkeeper-batter Richa Ghose and pacer Titas Sadhu in action.

Where to watch the matches?

The men’s matches will be available on Sports 18 (3) and Jio Cinema. The women’s games will stream exclusively on OTT platform FanCode.