Mehrab-Ayub partnership breaks Bangladesh record
Marshall Ayub and Mehrab Hossain jnr are in the middle of the biggest partnership in Bangladesh's first-class cricket. The pair, playing for Central Zone, has so far added 472 runs for the fifth wicket against East Zone, beating the previous highest of 420 between Ayub and Mohammad Ashraful, which was scored more than six years ago.
The record stand has ensured a place in the final for Central, who just needed a point to qualify; they are now 528 for four, and it is likely that captain Mosharraf Hossain would allow them to get to personal milestones, as well as the collective one. The record for the highest fifth-wicket stand in first-class cricket currently is held by Ravindra Jadeja and Cheteshwar Pujara, who added 520 runs without being separated, for Saurashtra in the Ranji Trophy in 2008.
Ayub and Mehrab reached their highest first-class scores as well. Mehrab crossed his previous highest of 196, while Ayub scored his second double-century of the season. Ayub's previous best was a knock of 209, during which he had shared a substantial fourth-wicket stand of 311, also with Mehrab.
"We have been batting well as a pair for a long time, and whenever I have come to bat for any first-class team, it is normally Marshall [Ayub] who is at the crease at No. 4," Mehrab, who bats at No. 6 for both Dhaka Metropolis and Central Zone, told ESPNcricinfo. "Our initial target was to get the team to a safe score, and then from the second morning, I counterattacked so that they eased the fielding placements and we could stay in for a long period."
"There wasn't much help in the Bogra wicket for the bowlers, but I thought Nabil Samad and Tapash Baisya bowled well. We had to ride it out even this morning but once we were on top, we batted comfortably," he said.
Ayub was reminded of the 420-run stand with Ashraful, in which he had scored 145. "I think the difference between that stand in Chittagong and this one is that I got a life in that game in 2006 whereas here it was a clean knock. There was one chance at short midwicket but it was a tough one so I wouldn't count it.
"My first target today was to move from 95 not out to a century, and once I crossed the 150-mark, a double-hundred was on my mind, as it is going to be my second for the season. Tomorrow I would like to think of getting a triple-hundred, but in batting you cannot predict anything. One good ball and it will be all over," said Ayub.
The two, who have known each other since their Under-13 days in the Dhaka age-group competitions, have had several productive partnerships this season too. "Invariably we have added 40-50 runs quickly whenever we have batted together. We wanted to do the same yesterday after we lost four early wickets. But now it has become a great achievement," Mehrab said.
They will have the chance to improving on it, and maybe break more records.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent