Sylhet confirmed their place in the second phase of the National Cricket League with an eight-wicket win over Dhaka in the last round of the first phase at Fatullah.
The campaign of hapless Dhaka ended with their sixth loss in seven games and this game was over as a contest when their top-order fell in the first hour for 24 runs. The Sylhet pacemen led by Robiul Islam ran riot, taking four wickets while Tapash Baisya picked up three. After some resistance from the Dhaka lower-order, Nabil Samad and Enamul Haque Jnr finished up the job to bowl them out for 175.
Sylhet replied as they are used to, slowly. They played out 117.1 overs to take a 110-run first innings lead with Ezaz Ahmed and Enamul providing the impetus at the end of the innings.
Dhaka had another poor outing in the second innings. Opener Abdul Mazid hammered 92 but it was never enough as they were bowled out for 231 to leave Sylhet 122 to win. They took only the first session on the final day to pick up their fourth win in the competition.
Chittagong didn't have Sylhet's luck of a lowly opponent in their crunch game for qualification. They played a peculiar game in Bogra which they eventually lost by a crushing 241 runs to Rangpur.
Both teams were bowled out in the first day. Rangpur for 122 and Chittagong for 118 before Rangpur hit back ferociously. Dhiman Ghosh (183) and Alauddin Babu (180) notched up a 322-run fifth wicket partnership as Rangpur amassed 587. Dhiman's form has been impressive for two seasons now while Alauddin is one of the very few seaming all-rounders in Bangladesh who is impressing in every game.
Chittagong never matched up to the chase or played out for the draw. Nafees Iqbal struck his second century but it was adieu for a team that has once again flattered to deceive.
Khulna rounded off the first phase with their fifth win, beating Dhaka Metropolis by 175 runs at Rajshahi to become one of three teams to win five games in this phase.
Mithun Ali's first innings 101 set up Khulna well but the rest crumbled to Arafat Sunny's 7 for 49 as they were bowled out for 256. But Dhaka Metro made a meal of their first innings, getting to 164 for 8 before Mohammad Ashraful declared as Khulna had bonus points around the corner.
The negative move and Khulna's 250 in the second innings was enough to set Dhaka Metro a 343-run target and that too without Ashraful. The skipper had been called up for national duty and was replaced by Arman Hossain. It mattered very little as Khulna bowled out Dhaka Metro for 167 with Mehrab Hossain Jnr retired absent due to a hand injury.
Rajshahi completed a 175-run win over Barisal in three days in Jessore. After an almost-even first innings, Rajshahi were powered by half-centuries from Mizanur Rahman, Junaid Siddique and Mukhtar Ali in the second innings and set Barisal 320 to win.
Sohag Gazi's whirlwind 63 apart, none of the batsmen dominated and the innings was over in just 31.4 overs with Barisal bowled out for 144. Sohag had a tremendous game, taking 9 for 188 and hammering two half-centuries.
Mohammad Isam is senior sports reporter at the Daily Star in Dhaka