Rajshahi, Khulna to clash in final
Rajshahi Division rallied on the final day to beat Sylhet Division by 119 runs at the Shere Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur, and reached the National Cricket League final. They overtook Sylhet in the points table to finish second.
A maiden five-wicket haul from part-timer Farhad Hossain in the post-tea session Sylhet ensured a Sylhet collapse in their pursuit of 330 for victory. Farhad, who bowls off-spin, removed Golam Mabud and Sylhet's Indian recruit Rahul Dewan in the space of five overs before picking three more tail-end wickets. Abul Hasan, however, took advantage of the open swathes left by Rajshahi, who put as many as six fielders in catching positions during the last hour.
Mizanur Rahman set the tone for Rajshahi with his 105 and shared a 186-run opening stand with Jahurul Islam on the first day. Mizanur scored his second first-class century. Sylhet fought back on the second day through Enamul Haque Jr's six wickets, Rajshahi declaring their first innings on 387 for 9.
Sylhet's approach was predictable but their aim to grind out the bowlers backfired as skipper Farhad Reza and left-arm spinner Sanjamul Islam kept it tight and picked wickets regularly. Apart from Nadif Chowdhury's 61, none of the Sylhet batsmen took advantage of their starts.
Khulna Division, who will take on Rajshahi in the final, drew their final second phase game with Dhaka Metropolis at the Fatullah Cricket Stadium. Khulna, the table-toppers, took a more cautious approach as they had already qualified for the final.
Anamul Haque, the opener, was the hero for Khulna, making 193 runs with the help of 27 boundaries and two sixes. He was trapped leg-before the next day, just short of a double-ton, by Tareq Aziz to end an innings that lasted more than five hours.
Taposh Ghosh, the left-hand allrounder, also notched up an unbeaten 111 during Khulna's 618 in the first innings and in Dhaka Metro's reply, Tasamul Haque, too, struck a century. Both players recorded their second first-class centuries in first-class cricket.
The match only had an academic interest when Khulna didn't impose the follow-on despite leading by 330 runs. They batted again and Imrul Kayes struck 117 off 181 balls. There was one more century left to score and Shamsur Rahman duly picked up a ton off 88 balls in Dhaka Metro's second innings.
Both matches endured a day's break due to a general strike across the country.
Mohammad Isam is senior sports reporter at the Daily Star in Dhaka