Rajshahi and Barisal emerge on top
National Four-Day League
At the half-way point, Rajshahi and Barisal have distinguished themselves as the frontrunners. Just three points separate Barisal from table-toppers Rajshahi after both recorded comfortable wins over once-formidable opponents. Chittagong's victory over a luckless Sylhet, meanwhile, pushed them to third - still 11 points shy of Barisal.
Khulna were thrashed by eight wickets by a rampant Rajshahi in Khulna. Tushar Imran, a lone battler in his team's fortunes in the last couple of matches, made 137 but on a typically flat track the next highest was Amit Majumder's 33. After being put in, Khulna were shot out for 229, with left-arm spinner Suhrawadi Shuvo snaring 4 for 56. In reply, Rajshahi made 390 in their first innings, thanks to Jahurul Islam's 130 and fifties in the middle order. Jahurul added 116 for the second wicket with Farhad Hossain (51) and then 126 with captain Anisur Rahman (67). With 4 for 64 seamer Ziaur Rahman was the pick of the Khulna bowlers. Batting again, Khulna made 213, with Shafiul Islam's 4 for 38 doing damage. Rajshahi scored the 53 runs required in 16.4 overs.
In Bogra, Barisal beat Dhaka by 118 runs. Opener Nasiruddin Faruque's patient 109 off 264 balls helped Barisal to 230 for 4 on day one after they opted to bat, following which Dhaka came back to take six wickets for 44 the next morning. Left-arm slow bowler Elias Sunny, the first to a hat-trick this season, returned splendid figures of 30-6-63-5. Dhaka, however, were bundled out for 116, with Talha Jubair taking 4 for 30. Batting again on day two, Barisal were under pressure from Sunny (4 for 51) and Ashraful Haque (3 for 34) and could only make 146. Dhaka's target was 305 in five sessions but, on a deteriorating pitch, they were bowled out for 186. The picture was bleak when they went into the fourth day at 182 for 8 - Jubair took 3 for 44, Saju Datta 4 for 53 - and they were polished off in 2.3 overs.
In Chittagong, the home side were rattled by Sylhet's left-armer Nabil Samad's 8 for 69 from a marathon 38.5 overs. Bowling a tight line and getting the ball to skid on to the batsman, Samad spun out Chittagong for 293. Six of his victims were either bowled or lbw. The in-form Faisal Hossain's 129 was the top score. Sylhet laboured to 201 for 9 with Rajin Saleh's 43 the top score, before declaring at the start of day three. Chittagong were again indebted to Faisal, whose 69 in a poor team effort of 140 proved decisive in the end. Samad had a wily partner in fellow spinner Monir Hossain and both grabbed five-wicket hauls. Needing 233, Sylhet were relatively comfortable going into the last day on 83 for 3 but kept losing wickets and finished 53 runs short.
Player of the week: Faisal Hossain's last three innings in the NCL have been 127, 129 and 69. The left-hand opener, who has represented Bangladesh in one Test and four ODIs, has been the batting mainstay for a struggling Chittagong, hurt by the departure of Nazimuddin, Aftab Ahmed and Dhiman Ghosh to the ICL and the unavailability of Tamim Iqbal and last season's captain Ehsanul Haque. Faisal, through his uncomplicated approach to batting, has scored runs freely in the NCL and rescued his side from potential danger in this round against Sylhet.
Rabeed Imam is the editor of TigerCricket.com