A three-week hiatus of domestic cricket in Bangladesh will end on Friday with two league matches of the first-class competition, the National Cricket League. However, there will be no matches of the 50-over Dhaka Premier League, suspended since March 28, as the BCB and the clubs remain deadlocked.
The NCL games, the first domestic cricket will be played at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium and Fatullah Cricket Stadium. Those two games will be the last of the tournament's second phase before the five-day final that is scheduled to start on April 26.
The BCB's inability to resolve the crisis with Victoria Sporting Club, Mohammedan Sporting Club and Abahani has been increasingly frustrating for the fans and the players. None of the clubs are budging from their threat of not playing unless their demands are met. It is hoped that a solution will be found by the time the NCL is over.
The BCB said on Thursday that officials from five clubs (except Victoria) met BCB president Mustafa Kamal to discuss possible ways to resolve the Super League (the second phase of the Premier League) drama. It is now likely that the Super League will be held after the NCL final.
The Sylhet-Rajshahi game will be held in Mirpur while in Narayanganj, league leaders Khulna will take on Dhaka Metro. Sylhet are in second position with 95.52 points while defending champions Rajshahi are third on 93.98 points though they have more wins.
Rajshahi are still waiting on the availability of Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim, who is yet to play a first-class game for them this season. Mushfiqur is appearing for his Masters examinations so he could miss the match. If he is absent, Rajshahi will rely on heavy scorers like Farhad Hossain, Mizanur Rahman and Junaid Siddique, and on left-arm spinner Saqlain Sajib who has taken 43 wickets so far in this edition.
Jahurul Islam, one of the Rajshahi mainstays, wanted the four-dayers to be played in milder climes, and not the heat of April. "Playing four-day matches in such weather is not perfect," Jahurul said. "It'd be great if the games would be played in January or February. First-class cricket is important in every country but when it is interrupted by break like this it diminishes the importance of the tournament."
Their opponents Sylhet will bank on their left-arm spinner Enamul Haque who is the leading wicket-taker in the competition with 53 from nine games. Their batting will revolve around Rajin Saleh, Golam Mabud and Ezaz Ahmed.
Newcomers Dhaka Metropolis have Asif Ahmed, the tournament's top-scorer with 744 runs, while Shamsur Rahman, Mohammad Ashraful and Mehrab Hossain Jr all have in excess of 450 runs so far. The bowling has been overly reliant on Arafat Sunny, who has 47 wickets while no one else in the team has bagged 20 dismissals.
Khulna will have the services of Abdur Razzak and Imrul Kayes for their match against Dhaka Metro while still relying on their balanced bowling attack that saw Al-Amin Hossain (37 wickets), Murad Khan (34) and Dolar Mahmud (34) dominate whenever the need arose.
Tushar Imran and Anamul Haque have scored in excess of 500 runs in the competition while the side will expect Razzak to dominate with the ball and Imrul to use the game to show the national selectors his talent.