With every passing match, speedster Mashrafe Bin Mortaza is making his presence felt as a solid local cricketer. After his superb showing in Dhaka, Mashrafe took his brilliance back home where he took five wickets to guide Khulna to a tight 9-run win over Chittagong yesterday.
Defending a modest 196, Khulna saw their pace trio of Mashrafe, Syed Rasel and Ziaur Rahman tear into Chittagong, picking up nine wickets. Rasel and Zia took two wickets each.
In Rajshahi, opener Zuaned Siddiqui bludgeoned his way to a century against Barisal as the hosts romped to a 116-run victory while Dhaka maintained their supremacy over Sylhet with a clinical seven-wicket win at the Shaheed Chandu Stadium.
Rajshahi and Khulna were on top with four points while Dhaka and Chittagong are on two points each. Sylhet and Barisal are yet to open their accounts.
Rasel removed both Mahbubul Karim and Nafis Iqbal, making way for his new-ball partner to get a crack at the Chittagong middle-order.
Mashrafe, in his fifth over, removed dangerman Aftab Ahmed, caught by wicketkeeper Mohammad Salim. Seven balls later, the Narail Express had Nazimuddin caught by Ziaur Rahman.
That set the wheels in motion.
Vital blow, that of top-scorer Ehsanul Haque, was dealt by Mashrafe as well.
With the team's fortune depending on captain Ehsanul at 154 for six, Mashrafe went through his defences and had him plumb in front. Ehsanul's dismissal made sure that Khulna would win by a good margin. But late order resistance from wicketkeeper Dhiman Ghosh gave Khulna the flutters, but once Dhiman was out on 172, the game was over.
Earlier, batsman Tushar Imran guided the hosts to a total of some respectability with his steady 44 off 70 balls. He was aided by 28 from Jamaluddin Babu and a quickfire 30 by tail-ender Ziaur. Sabbir Khan picked up four wickets for the visitors.
Zunaed did what Tamim Iqbal had done in the last round against Barisal: ripped their bowlers to bits. Having missed the four-day affair, Zuaned brought the Hong Kong Sixes flavour to his innings as he smacked 13 fours and a six in his 125-ball innings to score 120.
He shared a rapid 121-run opening stand with Jahurul Islam, who himself could have reached a ton as he smashed his way to a 52-ball 55. He fell to left-arm spinner Tarikul Islam, fifth bowler within the 20th over, as the two openers went on rampage. Tarikul ended with four for 57, the most successful of those five bowlers.
Apart from the openers, there were contributions from all-rounders Mushfiqur Rahman and Forhad Reza and a quickfire 24 from Suharwardi Shuvo as Rajshahi reached 295 for eight.
Barisal never looked to have gone for the win after captain Nafees and fellow opener Hannan Sarkar fell by the fifth over. As usual, there was tail-end resistance from the ever-improving Sajidul Islam (40 off 54) but that was all Barisal could muster as they caved in.
Sylhet would be glad that their home leg against Dhaka is over. Having lost the first-class match in three days, Sylhet were roundly beaten by Dhaka in the one-dayer as well.
Stylish batsman Alok Kapali scored 42 as the Sylhetis faltered their way through to 195 runs in 49.5 overs. Kapali got some support from captain Rajin Saleh, Ejaz Ahmed and Saif Mahmud. But Dhaka's spin was too much for them. Man-of-the-match Mosharraf Hossain took three wickets while captain Mohammad Ashraful picked two. Mahmudullah Riyad and Mehrab Hossain took one each while pacemen Mahbubul Alam and Niaz Morshed took a wicket each too.
In reply, Dhaka got off to a flying start with openers Javed Omar and Al Shahriar sharing a 86-run opening stand. Pinch hitter Mosharraf missed his 50 by a run as he rounded off his bowling effort with a 68-ball innings that featured three fours and a six.