Last-gasp win gives Rangpur maiden title
Rangpur Division clinched their maiden National Cricket League title after they beat Dhaka Metropolis by 102 runs at the BKSP-2 ground. When Mahmudul Hasan trapped Asif Hasan leg-before to take the tenth wicket, only four minutes of play remained and that was after the umpires had taken the mandatory final hour at 3:58pm.
With Khulna having moved to 120 points on the third day of the final round, the onus was on Rangpur to complete an outright win over Dhaka Metro, who were set a target of 361 runs in a minimum of 76 overs. The win moved Rangpur to 121 points.
Wickets were hard to come by at the start of the second innings on the fourth morning, but Mahmudul and Suhrawadi Shuvo pegged away. Shamsur Rahman and Mehedi Maruf added 51 for the second wicket before Marshall Ayub and Mehrab Hossain jnr added 65 runs for the fourth wicket. Mahmudul picked up his fourth wicket when he had Mohammad Shahid caught and bowled in the 58th over, leaving Dhaka Metro eight down.
Sharifullah, batting at No 10 due to illness, fell to Shuvo in the 65th over before Jabid Hossain and Asif resisted for 14.3 overs that almost took the title away from Rangpur's grasp. But finally, Mahmudul struck in the 80th over.
Rangpur chose to bat first in this game and scored 491 runs at a breathtaking 4.41 per over in their first innings. Litton Das made 107 while Ariful Haque slammed an unbeaten 112 off just 56 balls, with 12 sixes and six fours. He reached the century off just 54 balls. Naeem Islam made 91 while Elias Sunny picked up six wickets.
Dhaka Metro made a strong reply, and were bowled out for 437 with centuries from Mehedi and Mehrab. Saikat Ali and Asif Ahmed struck fifties too, while Shuvo took five wickets.
Rangpur were bowled out for 306 in their second innings, and again they scored at well over four an over, with Litton and Naeem making half-centuries.
In only their fourth season in the first-class competition, Rangpur became the sixth NCL champions. Chittagong Division were the inaugural champions while Biman Bangladesh Airlines won it in the second season. Dhaka Division and Rajshahi Division have won the title five times each while Khulna, who finished just one point short of winning the title this time, have been champions three times in the past.
Apart from the fight for the title, there was the battle to remain in the first tier of next season's NCL where the teams will be split into a two-tier system depending on points table finishes from this season. Five-time champions Rajshahi Division will be one of the four teams in the second tier after they finished fifth following a 134-run loss to Dhaka Division in Fatullah.
Batting first, Dhaka made 318 in the first innings with Shuvagata Hom scoring 111, his eighth first-class century. Muktar Ali took four wickets.
Rajshahi were in deficit by 27 runs after they were bowled out for 291. Maisuqur Rahman, Touhid Tareq and Hamidul Islam struck fifties while Left-arm spinner Mosharraf Hossain took four wickets. Nadif Chowdhury's fourth first-class century helped Dhaka take a 359-run lead on the final morning.
Rajshahi were bowled out for 225 in 68.5 overs with Mosharraf taking five wickets in the second innings, in addition to Jubair Hossain's three-wicket haul. Dhaka, who were champions in the 2013-14 season, finished third with 119 points, just two short of this year's winners.
Sylhet Division picked up their first win of the competition when they beat Barisal Division by ten wickets at the Shere Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur. Barisal and Chittagong ended the campaign without any wins.
Ahmed Sadiqur's four-wicket haul on the first day put Barisal in the back foot and they were bowled out for 167 in 65.2 overs. Shahriar Nafees made 90 but there were only two other double-figure scores in the entire innings.
Sylhet replied with 486 for nine and only declared their first innings on the third afternoon. The highly experienced Rajin Saleh scored his maiden double hundred in his 124th first-class match, an innings that spanned 446 minutes and contained 20 fours and three sixes. Shanaj Ahmed, Ruman Ahmed, Alok Kapali and Enamul Haque jnr also scored fifties. Left-arm spinner Nasum Ahmed took four wickets.
Barisal, trailing by 319, were bowled out for 390. There were fifties for Nafees, Shahin Hossain, Fazle Rabbi and Mosaddek Hossain but two wickets each from Sadiqur, Enamul, Rahatul Ferdous and Kapali kept Sylhet in a dominant position. They knocked off the second innings target in 13.4 overs with Rajin adjudged man of the match.