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NCL week 1 - Nadif stars for Dhaka Division, Abu Hider and Qazi Onik help Dhaka Metro win thriller

Quick bowlers on top on grassy tracks, with Sumon Khan picking up cheapest nine-for by a pacer in Bangladesh's domestic first-class history

Mohammad Isam
Mohammad Isam
All teams have now played a game each with the Dukes ball, only one of which has ended in a draw  •  Walton

All teams have now played a game each with the Dukes ball, only one of which has ended in a draw  •  Walton

Defending champions Dhaka Division made a solid start to the 2022-23 National Cricket League (NCL) with an innings-and-62-run win over Rangpur Division. The game ended in a day-and-a-half as Rangpur slumped to 92 and 56 [with Naeem Islam retired hurt in the first innings and absent in the second] in the face of some hostile fast bowling, of the sort not seen at the Shere Bangla National Stadium in close to a decade.
Elsewhere, Sylhet Division got the better of Chattogram Division, who earned promotion to Tier 1 last season, by nine wickets. Captain Zakir Hasan and veteran Nabil Samad starred for the winning side.
In Tier 2, Dhaka Metropolis snuck past Khulna Division by two wickets in another low-scoring contest, while rain forced a draw between Barishal Division and Rajshahi Division in Rajshahi.
The NCL is missing many top players, as the Bangladesh senior team is away, currently in New Zealand for the T20I tri-series and then in Australia for the T20 World Cup, while many others are in the BCB XI squad for their tour of Tamil Nadu.
Best batters
No centuries in a full round of NCL matches is a rarity, but BCB's policy of keeping more grass than usual on some of the pitches and introducing the Dukes ball looks like it made batting difficult.
Nadif Chowdhury's 90 for Dhaka Division against Rangpur Division on a spicy Shere Bangla pitch was the highest individual score. After Rangpur finished on 92 in their first innings, Dhaka were early trouble, at 61 for 5. Nadif struck ten fours and three sixes in his innings, with Dhaka stopping at 210 when he was the last wicket to fall.
In a hard-fought game in Chattogram, Sylhet Division captain Zakir made a crucial 87 to ensure they led the home side by 171 runs after the first-innings exchanges. Zakir added 154 runs with Amite Hasan, who made 79, for the third wicket. He struck seven fours and a six in his four-hour stay, but as soon as he got out, Sylhet collapsed from 275 for 4 to be bowled out for 312.
Best bowlers
Sumon Khan's match haul of nine wickets played a big part in Dhaka Division's win over Rangpur Division. His 9 for 41 is the cheapest nine-for by a fast bowler in Bangladesh's domestic first-class competitions. The only consolation for Rangpur was Musfik Hasan becoming only the third fast bowler to take a five-wicket haul [5 for 48]in first-class debut in Bangladesh.
Sylhet Division's Naeem Ahmed, an offspinner, had a more productive debut as his match figures of 8 for 70 added to Nabil's nine-wicket haul in their side's big win over Chattogram Division.
Left-arm spinner Hasan Murad took career-best figures of 8 for 119 in the same game for Chattogram.
Sharifullah's seven wickets, including a second-innings five-for, was crucial in Dhaka Metro's win over Khulna Division. In the rain-affected match in Rajshahi, pacers Nahid Rana and Kamrul Islam took four wickets each.
Best match
Dhaka Metro picked up their closest win in the NCL since coming into the competition in the 2011-12 season. Manik Khan's four-wicket haul helped them bowl out Khulna Division for just 131, but Dhaka Metro only took a 25-run lead. Sharifullah's 25 was their top score, but when Khulna batted again, his five-for kept them down to 191.
Dhaka Metro ran into trouble when they were 139 for 8 in the chase, still 28 runs short. Tailenders Abu Hider and Qazi Onik survived close to an hour to get them home, making 18* and 11* respectively.
Points to ponder
Dhaka Division and Sylhet Division have got off to good starts, leaving Rangpur Division and Chattogram Division with a lot to do in Tier 1. Dhaka Metro have also done well to start off with a win in a tight Tier 2 field, which includes former champions Rajshahi Division and Khulna Division.
Players to watch
Amite, who was the second-highest scorer in last season's NCL, made a sound start this time too, with that 79 against Chattogram Division. Dhaka Division's Sumon taking nine wickets was a good sign, while debutants Musfik and Naeem Ahmed also made impressive forays into the first-class game.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84