The Rangpur-Khulna tie of the National Cricket League is evenly poised while Rajshahi, Dhaka and Dhaka Metropolis were in firm control yesterday.
The batsmen continued to struggle as Tasamul Haque’s 125 remained the only century in the fifth round as left-arm spinners Enamul Haque and Murad Khan were on fire while off-spinner Mahmudul Hasan picked up his second five-wicket haul in the competition.
Enamul, who had figures of 10 for 77 in the fourth round game against Dhaka Metro, took the last two Rajshahi wickets to fall in the first innings after the defending champions added 26 runs.
He finished with figures of 6-42 as Sylhet kept down the Rajshahi lead to 75 runs. They began their reply poorly when skipper Imtiaz Hossain was bowled by Mukhtar Ali in the first over and Delwar Hossain trapped Sayem Alam leg-before soon after.
Rumman Ahmed and Saker Ahmed added 80 for the third wicket with the former scoring 45 while the left-arm spinner who was pumped up the order to bat at No 4, batted diligently to score 62 in 282 minutes. Saker struck nine boundaries in his 192-ball innings but fell after Rajin Saleh and Nadif Chowdhury also gave away their wickets.
Having made 168-6, Sylhet are leading by 93 runs with four wickets in hand.
In another low-scoring game, Dhaka found helpful lower-order batsmen to get them a slender 16-run lead in the first innings.
Mosharraf Hossain Rubel and skipper Mohammad Sharif added 97 for the seventh wicket with the spinning all-rounder making 69 off 165 balls with the help of eight boundaries and a six. Sharif too added to his first innings hattrick by keeping Rubel company with an industrious 34, this after Dhaka lost their first six wickets for just 59 runs.
Barisal were 70-3 in their second innings, leading by 54 runs with seven wickets in hand and only another lower-order miracle can save them from certain defeat against a strong bowling attack.
Among the four games, the four-dayer at the Jessore Stadium has all the makings of a Day Three finish as Rangpur require a further 210 to win with all their second innings wickets in hand.
At the start of the day, the visitors added another 49 runs to their first innings before being bowled out for 131 runs in 51.4 overs. The man who did all the damages even on the second day was left-arm spinner Murad Khan, who ended up with seven wickets for 29 runs, easily his best bowling figures in first-class cricket.
Dhiman Ghosh was unbeaten on 61 off 88 balls, the only Rangpur batsman who has stood up to the challenge this season.
Khulna lost early wickets and didn’t make much progress except for opener Nazmus Sadat who struck his first half-century in almost two years.
The left-hander who missed most of last season through injury, made 60 in three hours but the rest struggled as they limped to 214 runs in 67.5 overs.
Mahmudul took five wickets for Rangpur.
Set 223 to win, the northernmost division were 13 for no loss at the close of play.
They could have posted a much bigger first innings score at the Sylhet Stadium but off-spinner Yasin Arafat’s two wickets after Faisal Hossain took the prized scalp of Tasamul Haque who added only five runs to his overnight 120 not out.
Dhaka Metro’s first innings stopped at 393 runs and Chittagong made slow progress, placed at 206-5 in 65 overs.
Nafees Iqbal struck 70 but was one of Arafat Sunny’s four victims as the left-arm spinner ended with figures of 4-51.
Overall, Dhaka Metro lead by 187 runs in the first innings.
SCORES IN BRIEF
SYLHET: First innings 100-9 dec. and second innings 168-6 in 75.4 overs (Saker 62, Rumman 45; Mukhtar 3-42).
RAJSHAHI: First innings 175 all out in 49.1 overs (Sabbir 29, Robiul 18, Hamidul 18; Enamul 6-42).
BARISAL: First innings 183 all out and second innings 70-3 in 29 overs (Jupiter 41 not out; Sharif 2-15).
DHAKA: First innings 199 all out in 80.4 overs (Mosharraf 69 not out, Sharif 34; Sonnet 3-56, Reazul 2-20, Rasel 2-58).
KHULNA: First innings 139 all out and second innings 214 all out in 67.5 overs (Sadat 60, Tapash 36; Mahmudul 5-75).
RANGPUR: First innings 131 all out in 51.4 overs (Tariq 26, Dhiman 61 not out; Murad 7-29) and second innings 13-0 in 2 overs.
DHAKA METRO: First innings 393 all out in 111.4 overs (Tasamul 125, Mehrab 87; Yasin 4-91, Kamrul 3-66).
CHITTAGONG: First innings 206-5 in 65 overs (Nafees 70, Nazimuddin 43 not out; Sunny 4-51).
-With The Daily Star input