Naeem helps Rajshahi hang on for draw
Dhaka division 280 (Mahmudullah 57, Reza 3-41) and 330 (Haque 118, Mehrab 116, Sajib 5-109) drew with Rajshahi division 314 (Naeem 112, Shahadat 5-82) and 240 for 6 (Junaid 86, Naeem 52*)
Rajshahi survived a couple of tricky situations to hold on for a draw against Dhaka in Mirpur, and win the National Cricket League final on first-innings lead. Rajshahi never showed any real intention of going after the 246 runs they needed to win on the fifth day, knowing a draw would be enough to give them the title. Their batsmen were in control for the majority of the day but there were two phases of play in which quick wickets fell. Naeem Islam, who scored a century in the first innings, held firm and Rajshahi finished on 240 for 6.
Dhaka needed to take ten wickets on the final day to win, and struck early with Shahadat Hossain removing Jahurul Islam when Rajshahi had only added eight runs to their overnight total of 51. Junaid Siddique remained steady though and at 127 for 1, Rajshahi were on course for the draw. A couple of quick wickets at that stage gave Dhaka a sniff of a chance. Left-arm spinner Elias Sunny removed Farhad Hossain for 32 and Mahmudullah struck three overs later, getting rid of Mushfiqur Rahim.
Junaid and Naeem built a 43-run partnership, but when Junaid was dismissed by Shahadat for 86, Dhaka pounced on the opening and took another quick wicket. At that stage, Rajshahi were 185 for 5, and Dhaka had around 30 overs in which to take five wickets. But Rajshahi's lower order had supported Naeem well in the first innings, and repeated the performance on the fifth day.
Naeem scored 52 not out, but more importantly faced 155 balls on Saturday. Khaled Mashud - who retired from first class cricket at the end of the match - survived 83 balls, and when he was dismissed by Mahmudullah in the 96th over, the draw was already secure.