A star-studded Khulna Division beat Rajshahi Division by seven wickets in a Tier 1 match, while Sylhet Division posted an impressive eight-wicket win over Dhaka Metropolis in their Tier 2 encounter in the second round of National Cricket League matches. The Tier 1 game between Dhaka Division and Rangpur Division, which gave us our batsman of the round, and the Tier 2 game between Chittagong Division and Barisal Division, ended in stalemates.
Saif Hassan's unbeaten 220, his second double-century, powered Dhaka Division to 556 for 8 before they declared against Rangpur. He struck 19 fours and four sixes in his 329 balls, having spent more than eight hours in the middle.
Rangpur's Naeem Islam and Liton Das struck centuries in reply, as they were bowled out for 508 runs. Naeem's innings spanned seven hours and 20 minutes, and he struck 13 fours and a six in 324 balls. Liton made 122 off 189 balls, having struck 14 fours.
Imtiaz Hossain, the Sylhet veteran, led their 204-run chase against Dhaka Metropolis with an unbeaten 110 off 178 balls. He struck 11 fours and a six. Youngster Zakir Hasan also contributed with 71 and 72. Dhaka Metropolis' Mahmudullah struck his 12th first-class hundred when he made 111 off 243 balls, having batted four minutes short of six hours.
Three-figure scores proved elusive for Khulna's Nurul Hasan (97 not out) and Imrul Kayes (93) against defending champions Rajshahi in Khulna. Chittagong's Mahidul Islam (91) also missed out on a century against Barisal.
Pace bowlers had a good time in this round as Dhaka Metropolis' Abu Hider took a five-wicket haul against Sylhet. Al-Amin Hossain, playing for Khulna, celebrated his Bangladesh call-up after three years with figures of 4 for 17 against Rajshahi. Sylhet's Rejaur Rahman and Abu Jayed took four-wicket hauls against Dhaka Metropolis too.
But spinners didn't have too bad a time. Offspinner Nayeem Hasan had match figures of 8 for 116 against Barisal, but it couldn't enforce a result in Fatullah, while Mehidy Hasan and Abdur Razzak also took four-wicket hauls for Khulna against Rajshahi.
Sylhet's eight-wicket win over Dhaka Metropolis, finishing late on the fourth day, was by far the best contest in this round of matches. Sylhet were disciplined in their chase of 201, with the experienced Imtiaz hitting an unbeaten century, as he shared in a 162-run second-wicket stand with Zakir.
Sylhet had initially taken a 73-run first-innings lead, and they then bowled out Dhaka Metropolis for 273 to set up a modest chase, and got there with lots to spare.
Khulna and Barisal held on to the top positions in Tier 1 and Tier 2 respectively, although Sylhet have closed the gap with Barisal after their win over Dhaka Metropolis.
Players to watch
Ahead of Test selection for the tour of India, 20-year-old Saif has thrown his hat in the ring, while Nayeem's big haul should give him and the selectors something to think about very seriously.