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All eyes on Liton as Rangpur eye return to tier one

Liton Das' form has had a direct impact on Rangpur's fortunes AFP

Tier-two teams

Rangpur Division, demoted from tier one

Big Picture
Rangpur Division, champions in 2014-15, were demoted from Tier-1 in the previous season. It was a drastic slide, and had a lot to do with the form of Liton Das, who had scored a lot of runs when they were champions. But he had a tough time in the domestic scene after failing in international cricket.

However, Suhrawadi Shuvo, Sajidul Islam and Naeem Islam are good enough to pull the team out of the second tier. They also have allrounders Ariful Haque, Mahmudul Hasan and Tanveer Haider, and wicketkeeper-batsman Dhiman Ghosh, who was their top-scorer in the previous season. Alauddin Babu and Subashis Roy will be in charge of the pace bowling attack, while Sanjit Saha will be invigorated after being cleared by the BCB's bowling action review committee.

Key player
Liton Das needs to be back among the runs to have any chance of making it back into the Bangladesh side in the next 12 months. He showed good form in the latter stages of the Dhaka Premier League, but would need to do a lot more to get back his 2014-15 vibe.

Below the radar
Left-arm quick Sajidul Islam has had limited opportunities at every level, despite possessing the ability to bring the ball back into both right and left-handed batsmen. He has had some success at the top level, but in domestic cricket, Sajidul suffers from the lack of pace-friendly pitches.

Rajshahi Division, second place

Big Picture
Five-time NCL champions Rajshahi Division need to put their act together to get themselves out of the second tier. After winning the title for the last time in 2011-12, their form has disintegrated in the last two years.

They will once again rely on Jahurul Islam, Farhad Reza, Farhad Hossain and Junaid Siddique, with help from Saqlain Sajib, Muktar Ali and Delwar Hossain in the bowling department.

It is a pity not to have Rajshahi in the top tier of Bangladesh's first-class competition, but playing as a team will be high in their priority list this season, if they are to return to their best.

Key player
Farhad Hossain has been Rajshahi's top performer for a number of years and always finds a way to finish among the top ten scorers in the competition every season. He will need to have one of those seasons again.

Below the radar
Nazmul Hossain Shanto played for Bangladesh Under-19s in the World Cup this year and for Abahani in the Dhaka Premier League. But this competition will give him ample time to score big runs.

Sylhet Division, third place

Big Picture
Sylhet Division have all their stalwarts to pull them out of Tier-2 this year. Rajin Saleh, Alok Kapali, Imtiaz Hossain and Enamul Haque jnr will have to bring their A-game to the NCL this season.

They also have a number of youngsters like Abul Hasan, Abu Jayed and wicketkeeper Zakir Hasan to get them out of trouble from time to time. They are one of the least successful first-class teams in the country, but they have all the potential to make it to the next tier at the end of this season.

Key player
Imtiaz Hossain has always been a heavy scorer. During this year's Dhaka Premier League, his run-making, which translated into winning scores, caught everyone's attention. He will have to keep Sylhet on firm ground throughout the tournament, and it will also help him progress as he heads into the last stretch of his career.

Below the radar
Ebadat Hossain is a pace bowler who was discovered during a pace bowling hunt from earlier this year. He works for the Bangladesh navy, for whom he played volleyball for a number of years. But he has been identified as someone who can bowl fast with proper training, and staying with the NCL team would help him immensely.

Chittagong Division, last place

Big Picture
There are very few good things to be said about Chittagong Division who finished last among all eight teams in the two tiers. The last few years have been quite bad for the country's second-most affluent division, which also boasts a BPL team and a league of its own.

But apart from Mominul Haque, Tasamul Haque, Nazimuddin, Mahbubul Karim and a few others, the Chittagong side has a long way to go. Mohammad Saifuddin, Yasir Ali and Irfan Sukkur are young players who offer a lot of promise, but they need proper fitness and skill development to take them to the next level.

Key player
Mominul Haque will once again be the only person of interest when Chittagong plays in the NCL. He is a Test regular, but the Bangladesh team management have left him out of the limited-overs teams for a long time now, and he has all the motivation to do well in the NCL.

Below the radar
Mohammad Saifuddin impressed everyone in the Under-19 World Cup, but was reported for a suspected bowling action later and got injured in the Dhaka Premier League. The right-arm medium pacer has remodeled his action and will be looked at with some interest as he is also a capable batsman.

For a preview of teams from tier one, click here.