March 10, 2000

Violence mars Bangladesh Premier league

The image of cricket as a "gentleman's game" was badly marred when Kalabagan's leading batsman Zahoor Elahi who scored three tons in four previous league matches, hit Abahani's Hasibul Hossain Shanto. Zahoor, who has also played one day internationals for Pakistan and is a younger brother of test player Manzoor Elahi, stole the spotlight in the early games with his powerful strokeplay, and also his five-wicket haul earlier in the same match.

However, his actions, improper to say the least, caused one of the most terrible incidents in the history of Bangladesh cricket. Chasing a revised target of 188 from 40 overs, Kalabagan's star Elahi was dismissed in the fifth over caught by Mehrab Hossain off Hasibul's bowling. Hasibul, regarded as arguably the best pacer for a non-test nation, continued cheering in joy, until he collapsed to the field after being struck on the knee by Elahi with the bat.

All the Abahani fielders rushed to the spot, and surrounded Zahoor as if to assault him, but Abahani skipper Akram Khan guarded the Pakistani preventing the situation from getting any worse. Although, Hasibul's injury does not look very serious, he will be out of action for at least a couple ofmatches. Akram Khan, later at an interview termed Elahi's actions as a "big offence", and he added, "Sometimes we make loud noises to celebrate the occasion, but that should not ignite someone to hit a player, it is bad."

Abahani's coach Sarwar Imran was a lot less diplomatic demanding severe punishment. Kalabagan's captain Harunur Rashid, on the other hand, claimed in a desperate attempt to defend his player that "Zahoor had no intention of hitting Hasibul, but only threw his bat out of disappointment. It was an accident". A roundup of other matches played in the Bangladesh

Premier League this week:

Abahani V Victoria (Bangabandhu, March 6, 2000)

Abahani Limited took just three and a half hours to annihilate rookies Victoria, on the way to their fourth successive win in as many matches. After Abahani's captain Akram Khan, elected to field first, pacers Azam Iqbal and Hasibul Hossain ripped through Victoria's feeble batting order, taking 4/18 and 3/25 respectively. Ziaul Haq (26) and Rashed Hanif (29) showed the only signs of resistence, but no other batsman reached double figures as Victoria were bundled out for just 83. Pakistani Mohammad Hossain promoted to open the innings for Abahani played an exciting knock of 25 off 23, before he was caught by Nayan off his own bowling. Ziaul Haq picked up two quick wickets after the that, but one down Ejaz Ahmed junior (25*) and Ahsanullah (7*) steered Abahani to a comprehsive seven wicket victory within 14.4 overs.

Kalabagan V Surjo Torun (Bangabandhu, March 7, 2000)

Zahoor Elahi slammed his third century in four matches for Kalabagan to guide them to a nine victory over the star-studded Surjo Torun. When Torun batted first, their top order was devastated by a fiery spell from Bikash Ranjan Das (3/27). After collapsing to 22/4, only skipper Mihazul Abedin's responsible knock of 44 (off 94 balls!) and Khaled Masud's 66 not out plus 33 extras conceded by Kalabagan, helped Torun post a very mediocre score of 198. Elahi was one of Kalabagan's best bowlers taking 2/39. Having lost his opening partner Harunur Rashid (9) early, Zahoor Elahi became the destroyer with an explosive 110 off 87 deliveries. However, youngster Rajin Saleh's contribution of 71 played a vital run, as they put an unbeaten partnership of 177 for the second wicket to crush their oponents in 32 overs. The Torun attack with the exception of Suja Irfan (1/36 off 8) simply got hammered, especially former Indian Test spinner Rajesh Chauhan (who got banned by the ICC for a suspect bowling action), conceding 30 runs off his four overs.

Brothers V Agrani Bank(BKSP, March 7, 2000)

Brothers Union posted a dramatic win over Agrani Bank, in the highest scoring match of the season where almost 600 runs got scored (599 to be exact). Choosing to bat first, Agrani lost their first two wickets for 37 runs but from then on there was no looking back. Pakistani openner, Abid Hanif with 64 repaired the early damage, and later another Pakistani Shahin Malik blasted an unbeaten 93 off just 83 balls. In the end, it was Mafizur Rahman who stole the show whacking 36 runs in a 13 ball cameo, hammering four sixes and one boundary as he and Malik extracted 70 runs in the last five overs, as Agrani put up 299/5 in their fifty overs. Ehsanul Haq (65) and Shahriar Hossain (85)'s agressive opening partnership of 125 from 19 overs, dented Agrani's high hopes. After their dismissals, the rest of the Brothers batsmen kept the run rate high and in the end Khalud Mahmud (38 off 31) and Jahangir Alam (27) guided them to a seemingly comfortable victory chasing this formidable total, with 11 balls to spare.

Mohammedans V City Club(Bangabandhu, March 8, 2000)

Mohammedans put in to bat, made a relatively small score of 227/9 in their fifty overs. Their total was built around some good knocks by Nahid (90), Sri Lankan Tillekaratne (44) and Neeyamur Rashid (33). Saifullah Magsi was once again the peak of City Club attack taking three for 30, while Rehan bowled with extreme accuracy for his 2/33 off ten overs. City Club had a dream start chasing this small total, as their openers Rehan (61) and Sajid (51) put on 125 runs but an upset over the favourites was not meant to be. Tillekaratne with his part time swing bowling, provided the initial breakthrough claiming Sajid's wicket, followed by Wasim's in the same over. Rafiq got rid of Rehan and from then on the rookies of City Club lost their way. Kalpage joined in, taking two wickets and City Club's tail were left with 64 runs required off the last ten overs. Some more accurate bowling from the Mohammedans, saw City Club crawl to 209/9 before the last delivery when number eleven Al Amin was stumped off Tilekaratne who ended with four wickets for 39 runs.

GOPIBAGH V WARI CLUB (BKSP, March 8, 2000)

Although this match did not involve any of the fan favourties, it was probably the most thrilling encounter of the season. Gopibagh inserted to bat, managed just 196/8. Captain Salim Shahed topscored with 60 off 89 and number eight Shamsul contributed 36 runs, to give the total some respectability. Pakistan's Ataur Rahman was responsible for Gopibagh's dismal total, dismissing four batsmen for 41 runs. Wari were in trouble early after having collapsed to 25/3. From then on there were small contributions down the order, the only notable one Halim's 33. None of the batsmen got settled and Wari were left reeling at 163/9 with 33 more needed off 13 balls. Last man, Zakir Hossain almost turned the game Gopibagh's way, as he smashed 18 runs off just 6 balls (two fours and a six) and with Manjurul Islam Montu (18 off 14), the pair put up 29 runs in nine deliveries. But in the second ball of the final over Montu was run out, leaving Zakir stranded and Gopibagh just five runs short of victory.

Points Table

P  W  L  Pts

Abahani 4 4 0 8 Biman 4 4 0 8 Kalabagan 4 4 0 8 Mohammedans 4 3 1 6 Surjo Torun 4 3 1 6 Brothers 4 2 2 4 City Club 4 2 2 4 Gobibagh 4 1 3 2 Victoria 4 1 3 2 Agrani Bank 4 0 4 0 SadharanBima 4 0 4 0 Wari Club 4 0 4 0