Vol. 5 Num 574 Fri. January 06, 2006  

Aktel Premier Cricket League
DOHS unstoppable

There was no stopping for holders Old DOHS as they ambled to their ninth straight win in the Aktel Premier Cricket League at the expense of Bangladesh Biman on Thursday.

While DOHS, after successive close shaves against Mohammedan and Abahani in the previous rounds, comfortably beat the national flag carrier by 41 runs, their nearest challengers Victoria Sporting Club suffered a painful one-run defeat against Abahani in an exciting match at Fatullah Stadium.

Victoria's defeat meant a four-point lead for DOHS with two more games to go in the first phase.

Mohammedan, after two demoralising defeats, returned to winning ways in a most empathic fashion, flooring last year's runners-up City Club by nine wickets to join Biman in the third position behind surprise package Victoria with six wins from nine games.

Brothers Union also scored an impressive six-wicket win against lowly Orient SC to join City Club and Sonargaon Cricketers in the crowded fourth position -- all having five wins against four defeats.

For a big-spending Sonargaon, hefty fines on their key players brought the best out of them for a second successive game as they thrashed fellow newcomers Agrani Bank by eight wickets.

Kalabagan also continued to impress in their return to the Premier League with a 49-run victory over Indira Road Krira Chakra. It was their fourth win to join their more colourful Dhanmondi neighbours Abahani in the fifth place.

A vintage Steve Tikolo struck his sixth half-century as DOHS piled up a commanding 264-6 against Biman at BKPS.

The former Kenyan captain hammered a blazing 87 off 84 balls that contained nine fours after the holders lost both openers with only eight runs on the board. National left-arm spinner Manzarul Islam (40), batting at number three, led the early recovery operation putting on 112 runs for the third wicket with wicketkeeper Shahin (44). Skipper Akram Khan also returned to runs with a 51-ball 40. But the former national captain's celebration was spoiled by a 5,000 taka fine slapped by the match referee for his heated argument with umpire Nadir Shah over the run-out decision of Manzarul. Khaled Mahmud, who inspired the champions to crucial victories against Mohammedan and Abahani, entertained the BKSP students with a 12-ball 25.

Biman's pursuit to chase the challenging total got an early setback when national opener Javed Omar departed for four. Humayun Kabir scored a fine 53 but Biman's hopes of winning the match was dashed when Mushfiqur Rahman (70 off 82 balls) and wicketkeeper Sajjad Kadir (59 off 51 balls) departed in quick succession in the last ten overs.

Steve Tikolo was adjudged man-of-the-match for his fine fifty followed by two wickets including the prized scalp of Mushfiqur.

Abahani have recently flown in former Sri Lankan off-spinner Kumara Dharmasena in an effort to bolster their mediocre team and it augured well for the fallen giants at Fatullah, where the slow bowler pulled off a dramatic win by dismissing the last Victoria batsman.

Victoria, chasing Abahani's modest 203, were left with two more runs to win in the final two deliveries with a wicket in hand. But Dharmasena bowled Shuvro with the penultimate delivery to overshadow a virtuoso all-round show of Sakib Al Hasan.

The young left-arm spinner took five wickets for 31 to contain Abahani to a modest total after opener Jahurul Islam struck 48 and Imran Ahmed 63 off 108 balls. The southpaw also scored a fluent 28 off 21 balls to win the man-of-the-match award.

Opener Hannan Sarker was denied a deserving century for one run but the right-hander fashioned an easy nine-wicket win for Mohammedan after off-spinner Sabbir Khan spun City Club out for a modest 187 at Bogra.

Hannan was stranded on 99 when Mohammedan reached the target of 188 in 37.5 overs. He struck a dozen fours and two mighty sixes in his 123-ball undefeated knock. Mohammedan's victory was never in doubt after Hannan and on-song Indian Sandeep Sharma (48 off 60 balls) produced 111 runs for the opening stand.

Earlier, national opener Shahriar Nafees batted with a purpose for City, who never built partnerships after being sent into bat.

Left-handed Nafees scored 69 off 82 balls that featured eleven fours and a six.

National opener Nafees Iqbal returned to action as a super-sub after two-match injury lay-off with a half-century as Brothers thrashed a pointless Orient by six wickets.

Nafees scored 56 and Pakistani Rashed Hanif struck an unbeaten 60 as Brothers toppled a not-so-impressive Orient total of 186 with eight more overs to spare.

Sonargaon chased even a smaller target when Agrani Bank were bundled out for 133 in the face of some controlled bowling from Tapash Baisya, Nabil Samad, Mohammad Rafique and Ashiqur Rahman.

Al-Shahriar then whipped his way to 45 and skipper Mohammad Ashraful hit an unbeaten 55 as Sonargaon reached 136-2 in 31 overs.

Kalabagan thrived on healthy contributions from the top-order including half centuries by Mithu (53) and Nahidul Haq (55) to post a massive 285-6 -- the highest innings total in the ninth round.

Indira Road, in their chase, were all out for 236 in 46.5 overs with Golam Maola notching highest 53.