National Four-Day League
Chittagong became the first visiting team to defeat Rajshahi on home soil during the National Cricket League (NCL) this season. The defeat is likely to be a decisive blow for Rajshahi's title challenge as leaders Khulna opened up a nine-point gap at the top with a high-scoring draw against Sylhet. Dhaka completed a comprehensive victory against the hapless Barisal to keep the interest going with two rounds remaining.
The usual script didn't look like changing for Rajshahi, who won the toss at the Rajshahi Stadium, and Chittagong found themselves at 29 for 4 by the 17th over. Skipper Ehsanul Haque (66) and Dhiman Ghosh (50) resurrected the innings with a fifth-wicket stand of 116 but seamer Mohammad Shahzada removed both within five runs and Chittagong were all out for 198. Rajshahi lost their openers in consecutive balls and closed the first day on 24 for 2. The following day, they continued to lose wickets without any kind of partnership developing and left-arm spinner Mohammad Younus got on top, taking 4 for 22 from 11 overs, as Rajshahi were skittled out for 118 just after lunch. Gazi Salahuddin (49) and Masumud Dowla featured in an opening stand of 76 as Chittagong took a 193-run lead into the third day with seven wickets in hand. The prolific Nazimuddin top-scored with 52, as Chittagong, with contributions from their lower order, finished their second innings on 301. Rajshahi's spirit doesn't die easy and they started well in pursuit of 382 with Farhad Hossain (83) and Shakil Haider (76) getting them on their way. At 203 for 2, Rajshahi were making a mockery of the steep target before offspinner Yasin Arafat sent back Hossain and captain Khaled Mashud (0) in the same over. Naeem Islam (48) and Mushfiqur Rahman (47) kept fighting until Arafat (4 for 98) got the better of them too. There were still anxious moments for Chittagong as Alamgir Kabir and Saiful Islam put on 47 for the last wicket and it was left to Ehsanul to ease the nerves when he had Islam caught behind with Rajshahi 22 runs short of the target.
Khulna, without a host of players who are on national duty, restricted Sylhet to 300 in their first innings at the Bir Shrestha Shahid Motiur Rahman Stadium. The Golam brothers, Rahman and Mabud, hit fifties for Sylhet while Murad Khan finished with 4 for 79. Khulna did even better when their turn came to bat. Nazmus Sadat fell for 47 but his opening partner, Imrul Kayash, raced to 87 not out at stumps on day two with Khulna on 193 for 1. Kayash extended his score to 138, his third century in the NCL as Khulna piled up 421, all of their top six batsman scoring more than 40 except captain Habibul Bashar, who was dismissed for a duck. Left-arm spinner Enamul Haque (jnr), was a stand out for Sylhet, considering that his 5 for 126 came on a flat pitch. Sylhet briefly stuttered, losing four wickets for 166, before they were rescued by centurions Alok Kapali and Rajin Saleh. Kapali's 111 came of 110 balls while Saleh was happy to nudge it around and wait for the loose balls and was unbeaten on 131 when play was called off with Sylhet on 362 for 5.
Barisal captain Shahriar Nafees put Dhaka in at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium and the move seemed to have paid off when they were struggling at 132 for 6. No. 9 Mohammad Sharif's 57 and Mosharraf Hossain's 40 pushed Dhaka to 262. Barisal were going great guns at 100 without loss but they fell apart after the openers Nafees (48) and Nasiruddin Faruque (61) got out. Mohammad Rafique and Mahbubul Alam took three wickets apiece as Barisal's innings finished at 193. Rapid innings' from stand-in skipper Al Sahariar (92 not out), Mahmudullah (81) and Nadif Chowdhury (50) allowed Dhaka to declare on 294 for 5 before lunch on the last day, with a lead of 363. The Barisal batsmen offered little resistance, with left-arm spinner Hossain (5 for 27) and Alam (3 for 46) leading Dhaka to a 217-run victory.
Rajshahi defeated Chittagong at the Rajshahi Stadium to clinch the NCL one-day title with two rounds remaining. Shakil Haider, with 95, was the mainstay in Rajshahi's 242 before Chittagong were thunderstruck by medium-pacer Delwar Hossain, who took 5 for 34. Faisal Hossain's unbeaten 91 only delayed the inevitable as Chittagong were shot out for 172.
Kapali blasted a 53-ball 73 as Sylhet made 278 for 8 against Khulna at the Bir Shrestha Shahid Motiur Rahman Stadium. Kapali capped off a fine all-round performance by taking 3 for 45 as Khulna could only muster 192, Nazmus Sadat's 78-ball 83 going in vain.
Dhaka, despite fifties from Mahmudullah and Nadif Chowdhury, could only manage 196 against Barisal at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium. Openers Nafees and Faruque made 61 and 55 respectively as Barisal eased to an eight-wicket win.
Player of the week - Alok Kapali (Sylhet)
For the second time in eight rounds, Kapali has stood out. Sylhet's rejuvenation can partly be attributed to Kapali, who is playing his natural game and enjoying the challenge. In the first innings against Khulna, he made 34, and then hit 111 in the second. Kapali's leg spin also fetched two wickets in Khulna's second innings. He was devastating in the following one-day match - making a whirlwind 73 and then claiming 3 wickets and a catch.
National Cricket League
National Cricket League one-day
Rabeed Imam is editor of TigerCricket.com