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November 2, 2008
National Four-Day League
In a week affected by rain and storms, Barisal turned out to be the major beneficiaries of a moment of indiscretion from Sylhet and went to the top of the table. All matches in this round were disrupted due to the cyclonic storm Reshmi and the first two days were washouts in Bogra, Chittagong and Rajshahi. None of the games saw two completed innings, but it was the drama in the Barisal-Sylhet fixture which made news, though for the wrong reasons.
With nothing but bonus points up for grabs, Barisal sent the visitors in at the Shahid Chandu Stadium hoping the pacers would utilise the moisture in the wicket that had been under covers for 72 hours. Sylhet to their credit fared well at the start with Golam Rahman and the captain Imtiaz Hossain putting on 63 for the first wicket before Rahman was run out for 33. Sylhet ended on 71 for 1 but collapsed the next day against the sustained pace of Talha Jubair, Sajidul Islam, Arafat Salahuddin and the debutant Kamrul Islam Rabbi. Sajidul and Kamrul took three wickets apiece as Sylhet were all out for 163.
With 48 overs left in the day, Barisal were well on course to add the batting bonus to the bowling points they had already pocketed by bowling Sylhet out in the first innings. As they edged closer to a first-innings lead, Sylhet employed the delaying tactics. When Barisal were at 160 for 5 - four short of the lead - the light was offered to the batsmen, and though they were willing to bat on, Imtiaz told the field umpires it was too dark to continue.
The action is interpreted as "refusal to play" in the tournament playing conditions and following the match referee's recommendations, Barisal were awarded the match and 12 points (eight for an outright win and four for bowling out Sylhet in the first innings). Sylhet did not get any points and Imtiaz was fined 75% of his match fees for his role in the incident.
The Bir Shrestha Shahid Ruhul Amin Stadium in Chittagong was badly affected by the cyclone, with damages to its lounges and stands, not to mention the outfield. But play between Chittagong and Khulna did get underway on the third afternoon and the opener Nafis Iqbal did his chances of getting a call-up to the Bangladesh Test side for the tour of South Africa no harm by remaining 53 not out at stumps after Chittagong were put in. Nafees went on to score an unbeaten 122 in Chittagong's 302 for 5 declared and Khulna reached 113 for 5 in 25 overs.
Dhaka opted to bat at the Rajshahi Divisional Stadium against Rajshahi but were immediately in trouble at 32 for 4 as Alamgir Kabir and Mohammad Shahzada made early inroads. The captain Javed Omar (82) dropped anchor and with the more aggressive Nadif Chowdhury (68) put on 128 for the fifth wicket to rescue Dhaka. They were eventually bowled out for 179 at lunch on the last day. Farhad Hossain took 4 for 19 and then gave further credence to his burgeoning reputation as an allrounder by staying unbeaten on 46 in an overly cautious Rajshahi effort of 113 for 6 in 62 overs.
Player of the Week: Nafis Iqbal
The day the Bangladesh ODI squad for the tour of South Africa was being announced in Dhaka, Nafis was doing his best in Chittagong to send a message across to the national selectors that he was ready for a Test place. His showed a lot of patience in his unbeaten 122, off 316 balls and 421 minutes. Perhaps the dream of opening the batting with younger brother Tamim Iqbal is not a distant reality any longer.
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