Gazi Group Cricketers regained the lead in the Super League after beating closest rivals Abahani Limited by six wickets, courtesy Nasir Hossain's all-round show - a three-for coupled with a half-century - at the BKSP-3 Ground in Savar. The victory puts Gazi Group Cricketers only one win away from clinching the 2017 edition of the Dhaka Premier League, with the final round of matches to be held on June 5.
Gazi Group's decision to bowl received validation, with their spin contingent accounting for eight of Abahani's batsmen and skittled the side out for 156 in 41.2 overs. Abahani's innings, however, received its first jolt as left-arm pacer Abu Hider trapped Saif Hassan in front in the first over of the game. Hossain Ali inflicted the second dent to Abahani's effort the very next over, cleaning up Shadman Islam. With both the openers having been removed for a duck, offspinners Mahedi Hasan and Nasir denied Abahani any real chance of a consolidation, as they chipped away at the middle and lower order to finish with a three-wicket haul each. Among the Abahani batsmen, Mohammad Mithun, Liton Das, Afif Hossain and Shuvagata Hom all fell between 23 and 32, with a 40-run fourth-wicket stand between Mithun and Liton being the only partnership of note during the Abahani innings.
In reply, Gazi Group stuttered intermittently during chase, despite Anamul Haque having set the platform with a 54-ball 41. While he lost his opening partner, Munim Shahriar, in the third over to Manan Sharma's left-arm spin, Mominul Haque couldn't sustain his innings beyond a 25-ball 21, as Hom had him caught by substitute Kazi Anik. Subsequently, Mohammad Saifuddin's dismissal of Anamul and Manan's removal of Jahurul Islam had Gazi Group struggling at 84 for 4 by the 21st over. Gazi Group captain, Nasir, however, took charge of his side's chase thereafter, notching up an industrious 56 off 92 balls to overhaul the target with 13.2 overs to spare, in the company of Nadif Chowdhury (26), with whom he put on 73 unbroken runs for the fifth wicket.
Maruf set the tone for Prime Bank's innings, with an array of confident strokes, negating the impact of the early breakthrough that Dhanmondi Club had garnered through opener Shanaj Ahmed's dismissal off Rubaiyat Haque in the fourth over. Maruf, whose marathon knock lasted nearly 47 overs, anchored the chase with three crucial partnerships, including a 44-run third-wicket stand with Rafatullah Mohmand (24) and another worth 64 runs for the fourth wicket with captain Asif Ahmed (26). The most significant, however, was his 115-run second-wicket partnership with Zakir Hasan, who fell one short of a half-century in the 24th over.
Maruf clobbered ten fours and four sixes en route to his 143-ball knock, before he holed out to Tanbir Hayder off Sohag Gazi. Ariful Haque and Arifur Rahman then closed out the chase for Prime Bank with two overs to spare. Five out of the seven bowlers Dhanmondi Club used finished with one wicket apiece.
Earlier, Prime Bank's Al-Amin Hossain and Taibur Rahman forged a potent partnership with the ball to restrict Dhanmondi Club to 242 for 7 in 50 overs. The duo scalped five out of the opposition's top six, after offspinner Nahidul Islam made the first strike in the sixth over of Dhanmondi Club's innings. Having lost half their side inside 21 overs, with 100 runs on the board, Tanbir Hayder (58) resuscitated the innings with captain Elias Sunny (57) by means of a 104-run partnership for the fifth wicket. No. 8 batsman Mehedi Hasan Rana chipped in with a 21-ball 20 to help Dhanmondi Club near the 250-run mark.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84