Dhaka Metropolis make winning return
Dhaka Metropolis made a great start to their return to the National Cricket League with a six-wicket win over defending champions Rajshahi Division at the Shahid Kamruzzaman Stadium in Rajshahi. Dhaka Metro last played in the NCL in 2000-01 and the current side is a newly-formed one.
Elias Sunny made his final claim for a Test place; his three wickets helped Dhaka Metro bowl the home side out for 193 in the first innings. Their reply wasn't that strong though, and they managed only a 30-run first-innings lead, through half-centuries from Tasamul Haque (55), Asif Ahmed (71) and Shamsur Rahman (56).
Rajshahi never recovered in the second innings and only Mizanur Rahman offered some resistance with an innings of 72 that took almost five hours. Dhaka Metro easily reached their 153-run target on the final day. Asif again top-scored with 47, which included five boundaries and a six; he took the Man-of-the-Match award for his performances in both innings.
Chittagong beat Barisal by 105 runs in a low-scoring match at the BKSP Ground in Savar that finished in three days. Neither team managed to score 200 in either of their innings in the match.
Legspinner Noor Hossain starred with the ball for Chittagong. The Dhaka-born Noor, who shifted to Chittagong, picked up seven wickets in the match, a rare feat for a spinner so early in the Bangladesh domestic season.
Noor's first three scalps were in the first innings when Barisal's reply to Chittagong's 187 lasted just 55 overs as they were bowled out for 129. Chittagong's second innings was a one-man show: skipper Nazimuddin played his shots, hitting seven fours and three sixes in his 71, as Chittagong got to 191. Noor then took advantage of a wearing wicket and ran through the Barisal middle order to set up the victory.
The match between Sylhet and Khulna at the Sylhet Stadium could have gone either way but ended in a draw. It featured the first century of the competition, with the hard-hitting Ezaz Ahmed hammering 100 from No. 8. Half-centuries from Sayem Alam, Golam Mabud and night-watchman Enamul Haque Jnr helped Sylhet reach 478 for 8 declared.
But as it often happens with Sylhet, their 478-8 score came at a snail's pace and although Khulna were bowled out for 273 (with Anamul Haque's 126) and the hosts declaring their second innings on 167 for 6, Khulna were soon out of trouble on the final day as they pressed for a stalemate; Soumya Sarkar's unbeaten 62 also helping their cause in the last two sessions.
A maiden first-class century by Abdul Mazid and a second by Rony Talukder put Dhaka Division in a winning position at Bogra, but new additions Rangpur hung on for a draw on the final day.
Mazid and Talukder added 191 for the first wicket in the second innings to set Rangpur a 375-run chase on the final day. They calmly avoided trouble and ended the game on 201 for 7 with allrounder Alauddin Babu remaining unbeaten on 61, to go with his first-innings effort of 76.
Earlier in the first innings, Dhaka made a bright start helped by Saikat Ali, Raqibul Hasan and Taibur Rahman scoring half-centuries as they moved to 327. Apart from Alauddin, only Saymon Ahmed stuck around as the pair added 79 for the seventh wicket. Mosharraf Hossain, the left-arm spinner, took six wickets in the game while for Rangpur.
Mohammad Isam is senior sports reporter at the Daily Star in Dhaka