2:50 AM ET
AB de Villiers' arrival is not just a middle-order boost for Rangpur Riders, who are desperate for a win after two close losses, but also a sigh of relief for the entire league. The BPL is about to lose David Warner, the second of its marquee players to leave midway through the competition due to injury, after Steven Smith. But with de Villiers around for at least six matches, there will certainly be hope for bigger crowds in the stadiums.
Having arrived on Thursday, de Villiers had his first hit for Riders who take on Warner's Sylhet Sixers on Saturday, a game they must win to regain composure going into the last stage of the league phase. De Villiers, who joins the likes of Chris Gayle, Alex Hales and Rilee Rossouw in the Riders top order, said that they are looking to recover in the tournament.
"It is a fantastic squad when looking at the names," de Villiers said after arriving in Sylhet. "It is a really well-balanced team. I know the Rangpur Riders have had some success in the past. If we can get bit of a run going towards the latter stages of the tournament, the last six games in the pool stage, hopefully we do qualify for the knockouts."
De Villiers said that the BPL will be a tournament that eases him into the new T20 season, as he is also signed up to play in the PSL and IPL in the coming months.
"I have played a bit of cricket in the Mzansi League in South Africa," he said. "You can call it the start of my new season. I have to stay fit and busy. I love coming to Bangladesh. I haven't been here for a while.
"I have heard good things about the BPL. I have asked guys at the IPL what it's like, and they said quality of cricket is fantastic. It is a tournament that's growing from strength to strength every year. I am very happy to be part of it this year."
De Villiers said he did not mind a bit of turn on the pitches, although the surfaces during this tournament haven't made too many batsmen happy. "The wickets here are always good. You get a little bit of turn. I don't mind.
"I have always enjoyed wickets that turn a bit, and then you get some good wickets as well. I have seen our last game against Sylhet. The wicket played pretty well. Hoping for that again tomorrow."
De Villiers arrived in Bangladesh with form on his side, having made 282 runs with a 162.06 strike rate in the Mzansi Super League. He remained realistic about his performance in a new competition, but didn't rule out the big hits.
"It motivates me to go out and play well," he stated. "I have expectations throughout my career, so it is nothing new to me. The game of cricket is up and down. You can't perform every game. I am also realistic about the sport. I don't expect too much of myself. But I do expect some fireworks from time to time."