Reza, Sanjamul inspire stunning Rajshahi victory
Rajshahi Division narrowed the gap at the top of Bangladesh's National Cricket League table through a stunning 403-run win over Chittagong Division.
They were staring down the barrel at 77 for 6 before lunch on the first day at the BKSP-3 ground. But the script changed when allrounder Farhad Reza and No.8 Sanjamul Islam got together and spearheaded the most stunning comeback. They added 347 runs, equaling the second-highest seventh-wicket partnership in first-class history, to drive Rajshahi into firm ascendancy.
Farhad made 259, his maiden first-class double ton, and struck 35 fours and five sixes. Sanjamul's 172 was his first four-day hundred, and it came off 196 balls with the help of 22 fours and two sixes.
Muktar Ali took control on the second day through his six-hitting spree. He ended up with 16, equaling Andrew Symonds, Jesse Ryder and Graham Napier for the most sixes in a first-class innings. Muktar made 168 off 148 balls, and like Sanjamul, it was his maiden hundred at this level.
Rajshahi declared on 675 for 9 on the second day; 598 of those came off the final three wickets. Chittagong, second from bottom and no-hopers in this year's competition, folded for 208 in the first innings, after which Rajshahi batted again and blazed to 128-2 in 14 overs.
Chittagong's second innings started poorly with Tamim Iqbal injuring his right hand while batting. With seamer Mahbubul Karim also unable to bat, Rajshahi picked up the eight wickets that were available, winning by the third evening.
But to have any chance to win the title, they have to gather 25 points as well as hope for Dhaka Division to make less than three points in the last round of matches. A change to the playing condition this year means there is no final and the team at the top of the table wins the competition.
Dhaka maintained their form with an eight-wicket win over Barisal Division in Chittagong. Barisal started off well with the bat with Shahriar Nafees's 129 driving their total of 323. Shuvagata Hom and Nazmul Islam took three wickets each.
In reply, Dhaka relied on Taibur Rahman's second first-class century and fifties from Abdul Mazid (86) and Shuvagata (77) to take a 120-run first-innings lead. Barisal were then bowled out for 229 with left-arm spinner Nazmul taking four wickets. Dhaka knocked off the 110-run target with ease by the morning of the fourth day.
Dhaka Metro won the toss but they were bowled out for 172 with Shadman Islam's 40 being the highest. Khulna took a lead of 41 and needed Tushar Imran (55) and Nizamuddin (61) to inspire a middle-order fightback that helped them to 213 runs. Mahmudullah took four wickets.
Then it was the Razzak show, as he picked up nine wickets and Dhaka were bowled out for 243. Imrul Kayes' occasional offspin, though, played spoilsport to remove Mehrab Hossain Jr as the eighth wicket.
Tushar scored an unbeaten 107, his 15th first-class ton, to help Khulna complete the win on the final day, as they chased down 206 runs in the 49th over.
Rangpur Division crushed Sylhet Division by 314 runs in Fatullah. Batting first, Rangpur made 391 with hundreds from Naeem Islam (144) and No.7 Tanveer Haider (111). Sylhet were bundled out for 143, with seamer Subashis Roy picking up four wickets and offspinner Mahmudul Hasan took three. Rangpur batsmen bolstered the advantage with some quick runs in the second innings and the target ballooned to a mammoth 477. Sylhet were no match again as they were routed for 162. Sajedul Islam took four wickets while Mahmudul added three more to his tally.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84