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The hits and misses of Bangladesh's 2013-14 domestic season
May 15, 2014
The season began in September with the Dhaka Premier Division 2012-13, which was played after a long delay. Gazi Tank Cricketers dominated both rounds of the tournament, and were given a timely lift by Eoin Morgan. Before him, the likes of Imrul Kayes, Raqibul Hasan and Arafat Sunny kept Gazi Tank on top of the points table.
In the first-class tournaments, Dhaka Division rode on the form of their opening batsmen Abdul Mazid and Rony Talukdar, and the wealth of experience in the bowling department, to clinch their first National Cricket League title in seven years. South Zone won the Bangladesh Cricket League with an efficient display, thanks mainly to Imrul, Mithun Ali and Abdur Razzak.
For thirty-six years, the Dhaka Premier Division has been the main event in Bangladesh's domestic system. The club-based one-day competition, however, was never recognised as the official List-A tournament. There are no match and individual records of previous seasons, as there was never an effort to keep track of statistics.
The BCB finally gave the Premier Division List-A status this season, addressing the absence of a one-day competition after the NCL one-day tournament stopped following the 2010-11 season.
The unsung hero
In a season which started well for the senior side but ended disastrously, Mominul Haque's progress as a batsman was the most positive aspect. He was the only batsman to score more than 1000 first-class runs and led the scoring charts.
His three Test hundreds spoke volumes of how a calm approach can pay dividends in a team of batsmen inclined to play strokes. Mominul did the hard part of his job - grinding out tough sessions - most effectively. He remained the rare consistent factor in Bangladesh cricket, both on and off the field.
There have been seven scores of 200-plus in Bangladesh during this season, five of them by local batsmen in the first-class tournaments. Shamsur Rahman got close to a triple century with a blazing 267 off 286 balls in BKSP, but he missed the opportunity with a top-edged pull. Farhad Reza, Taibur Rahman, Imrul and Asif Ahmed were the other four double-hundred scorers.
Only in two seasons out of the last nine have two Bangladeshi batsmen scored a double-hundred. There were 16 scores of more than 150 in this season and the overall average run rate of 3.37 was the highest since 2005-06.
The flip side of the run-glut is that the highest level of domestic cricket in Bangladesh is usually played on flat, batting-friendly pitches. There is no sideways movement unless a highly-skilled pace bowler operates with the new ball in the first session. Statistically, pace bowling has accounted for less than 33% of all bowling in this season.
The hue and cry is louder than it has ever been, but not much has been done. During the coldest part of the cricket season, the BKSP pitches were so flat that even the spinners couldn't put a dent on the batsmen.
Spin is still left-arm spin
Offspinner Sohag Gazi remains a glimmer of hope in a set-up dominated by left-arm spinners. The top six, and seven of the top ten, wicket-takers in first-class cricket are all left-arm spinners. Taijul Islam and Abdur Razzak have taken more than 50 wickets in the two first-class tournaments, while Monir Hossain of Barisal was NCL's highest wicket-taker.
Subashis Roy is the only pace bowler in the top ten with 28 wickets. He has been rewarded with a place in the Bangladesh A team for the two four-dayers against West Indies in May and June and, with it, the hope of bowling in more friendly conditions.
According to the BCB's books, the Dhaka Premier Division 2012-13 was held in the 2013-14 season, between September and November last year. So where does has Dhaka Premier Division 2013-14 go? Again, according to the BCB, it has been shifted to the start of the 2014-15 season.
The explanation offered by AJM Nasiruddin, the head of Dhaka's leagues, was bizarre as he refused to recognise anything called seasons. Sadly, his prescription resulted in the vanishing of the Dhaka Premier League of the 2013-14 season and three tiers of the capital's league system.
The big stand
The by-product of a 347-run seventh-wicket stand is the expectation that follows both batsmen whenever they go out to bat again. Regardless of the unnecessary hope, what Sanjamul Islam and Farhad Reza did during the Rajshahi-Chittagong NCL match was stunning.
Rajshahi were 77 for 6 before lunch on the first day when the two got together. Farhad motored to his century before Sanjamul caught up with a fifty of his own, crossed his previous best of 73 and soon reached a maiden first-class century. Sanjamul almost caught up with Farhad's score and by the time he was out for 172, the team's score had swelled to 424 for 7 at the end of the first day. The batsman who followed - bowling allrounder Muktar Ali - then smashed 16 sixes in his 168 and Farhad made a career-best 259, helping Rajshahi win by 403 runs.
The next wave
In the post-Test status era, the first significant batch to emerge from Bangladesh's age-group pool included Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim and Tamim Iqbal, among others.
The next group is making all the right noises, particularly as they take their first steps in the next level. Mosaddek Hossain Saikat impressed in the early part of the season with his footwork against spin and ease against pace. Shadman Islam and Litton Das appear to be batsmen prepared for the long haul, while left-arm pacer Mustafizur Rahman has already made it to the Bangladesh A side after doing well in the 2014 Under-19 World Cup.
More venues, fewer excuses
The general uproar in Bangladesh cricket is usually about lack of venues and good pitches. While the pitches are yet to match the desired level, there are now more first-class venues. Fifteen venues have been used this season and four were used for international matches. Two new grounds have been completed in BKSP, north of Dhaka, while the much-awaited stadium in Cox's Bazar is up and running.
Now the organisers should have a hard time explaining why there is not enough cricket being played, a perennial problem in Bangladesh's domestic circuit.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84Feeds: Mohammad Isam
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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