NCL week 5: Rangpur Division at top in tier 1 with one round to go

Dhaka Metropolis are ahead in tier 2, but Rajshahi and Barishal are not too far behind

Mohammad Isam
Mohammad Isam
Sumon Khan was the leading wicket-taker after the first week, Rangpur Division vs Dhaka Division, National Cricket League 2022-23, Mirpur, October 10, 2022

Sumon Khan, along with Salauddin Sakil, led Dhaka Division to a 333-run win against Sylhet Division  •  BCB

Rangpur Division jumped to the top of the points table in tier 1 of the National Cricket League after their ten-wicket win over Chattogram Division in Savar. Sylhet Division, meanwhile, lost to Dhaka Division by 333 runs, and will now have to beat Rangpur in their last-round match if they are to clinch their maiden title.
Dhaka Metropolis gave themselves the best chance for promotion from tier 2 after their two-wicket win against Rajshahi Division. Elsewhere, Khulna Division got their first win of the season, a ten-wicket hammering of Barishal Division.
Best batters
Eight centuries were scored in this round, with the Dhaka pair of Abdul Mazid and Shuvagata Hom leading with the most valuable ones. Dhaka were bowled out for 113 in the first innings, but their bowlers fought back and bowled out Sylhet for 76. Dhaka then slipped to 136 for 4 with three of their top six getting ducks. However, Mazid and Hom steadied the ship by adding 254 runs for the fifth wicket, and completely changed the direction of this game. Mazid top-scored with 176 with 11 fours and seven sixes, while Hom struck 16 fours and three sixes in his 145.
Rangpur's massive win over Chattogram was made easy by veteran Naeem Islam reaching his 29th first-class century. He was unbeaten on 131 off 251 balls with 11 fours and a six. He was at the crease for more than six hours to ensure Rangpur got a 263-run first innings lead. Chattogram's Pinak Ghosh struck a century off 264 balls with ten fours, but could only take his side to even Rangpur's first-innings total.
Dhaka Metropolis' Mohammad Naim and Sharifullah struck centuries against Rajshahi. Naim raced to 112 off 105 balls with nine fours and five sixes, while Sharifullah rounded up an exact 100 off 129 balls with 11 fours and three sixes in response to Rajshahi's 252.
Tanzid Hasan struck 101 in the first innings with seven sixes and six fours, while Mushfiqur Rahim missed out on a second-innings century, getting out for 97.
Moin Khan reached his maiden first-class century, scoring 102 with seven fours and two sixes after Barishal were asked to follow-on in their defeat against Khulna.
Best bowlers
Rangpur's seamers Robiul Haque and Musfik Hasan were the stars with the ball. Robiul picked up 5 for 13 in the first innings and 3 for 50 in the second against Chattogram, while Musfik's 4 for 60 in the first innings was crucial too.
Sylhet's Enamul Haque took 5 for 33 to give his side the advantage against Dhaka, who were rolled for 113, but Dhaka's pace duo of Salauddin Sakil and Sumon Khan shared 15 wickets between them, giving Dhaka a 37-run lead. Left-arm quick Sakil took 5 for 14 and 3 for 52, while Sumon finished with seven wickets in the match their win over Sylhet. Rajshahi's Nahid Rana continued to impress, picking up 5 for 76 and 4 for 51 against Khulna.
Best match
Dhaka Metro's two-wicket win against Rajshahi did not provide just a thrilling finish but also an important result. Batting first, Rajshahi were bowled out for 252 runs despite Tanzid's 101. Left-arm spinner Rakibul Hasan took four wickets, while Abu Hider and Sharifullah took three each.
In response, Sharifullah and Naim struck hundreds to give Dhaka Metro a 121-run lead. Rajshahi were then bowled out for 297, with Sharifullah again doing the job with the ball, taking 4 for 59. Chasing 177, Dhaka Metro found it tricky as they lost regular wickets until Hider and Rakibul took them home with an unbroken 15-run stand for the ninth wicket.
Points to ponder
Sylhet need to beat Rangpur outright by eight points to win their maiden title, while Rangpur need only a draw to lift their second NCL trophy. Dhaka Division too have a chance but only if they win by an innings or ten wickets.
Dhaka Metro are on 25 points, Rajshahi on 22 and Barishal on 19. The top team from tier 2 will get a promotion to tier 1.
Players to watch
Sumon and Sakil have been excellent for Dhaka during this season. Sumon is currently the third-highest wicket-taker in the tournament with 26 scalps from five games, at an average of 9.88 and a strike rate of 23.7. Sakil has 21 wickets from four games, at an even better average (8.95 ) and strike rate (21.9). Sakil has done well in the past as well, for Sumon, this is his breakout season.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84