Rajshahi ski-pper Khaled Mashud led from the front on the first day against Barisal in the 9th National Cricket League at the Rajshahi Divisional Stadium yesterday.
In Bogra, Dhaka rode on fifties from Anwar Hossain and Al Shahriar as they moved to 237-4 at the end of play against Sylhet.
As they moved past the 200-mark, Dhaka took one point while Barisal also took a point, thanks to their bowlers picking five Rajshahi wickets.
Left-arm seamer Sajidul Islam picked up where he left off, removing both Rajshahi openers Jahurul Islam and Rabiul Karim.
His new-ball partner Talha Jubair then joined the act, picking up Rafiqul Islam and Naeem Islam as Rajshahi slumped to 46 for four.
But Barisal forgot to remove Mashud, who came in at number five when Naeem fell lbw to Talha for a three-ball duck.
For the rest of the day, Mashud and all-rounder Mushfiqur Rahman made sure Rajshahi move from a disastrous position to one where they can dictate terms.
The partnership between Mashud and Mushfiqur was a great example of patience. They knew the task in hand and had a fair idea that there is time aplenty in a four-day match.
Mashud moved to fifty, having batted for two and a half hours. He ended the day not out on 86 off 240 balls, having hit eleven boundaries. Having missed a hundred against Sylhet, Mashud will be particularly attentive of reaching a hundred.
"Yes the hundred is in my mind. I am looking forward to tomorrow (Saturday)," said Mashud.
"The wicket was quite difficult in the morning and had they attacked a little more, we could have lost 6 or 7 wickets quite easily," he added while referring to the damp conditions in the morning.
Mushfiqur batted with the same amount of persistence, but was more forceful than Mashud. He fell with 22 balls remaining in the day when Rokibul Hasan caught him off the bowling of medium-pacer Arafat Salahuddin for 67 off 195 balls. Like Mashud, he also struck 11 boundaries. Anisur Rahman was unbeaten on 0 and will start today with Mashud at the crease.
Barisal used nine bowlers but other than their opening bowlers, none made any impression on Mashud or Mushfiqur.
Sylhet skipper Rajin Saleh got the perfect response from his bowlers after he had won the toss and decided to field. Quick bowler Nazmul Hossain trapped Dhaka's doughty opener Javed Omar in front of the stumps only in the fifth over of the morning.
But Rajin had to wait till after lunch for more success as the other opener Anwar Hossain and Shamsur Rahman batted with vigour. Wicketkeeper-batsman Anwar truck his first half-century this season with the help of seven boundaries in 117 balls. After lunch, leg-spinner Alok Kapali had Shamsur caught by Tapash Baisya for 30, ending an 84-run stand for the second wicket. Anwar fell soon after for 54, also to Kapali.
But Dhaka has a strong middle-order and this came to the fore when the experienced Al Shahriar and Mehrab Hossain made sure that Dhaka had no further damage. Al Shahriar followed Anwar's mark as he also reached his first 50 of the season, in 93 balls with seven sweetly-timed fours.
Mehrab continued his good form as he reached 49 at stumps, with Mohammad Ashraful's replacement Marshall Ayub, unbeaten on 15. The two Dhaka youngsters have so far added 43 for the fifth wicket.
Apart from Kapali's two wickets, Nazmul and Imtiaz took one each.
RAJSHAHI: First innings 187-5 in 90 overs (Jahurul 4, Rabiul 1, Rafiqul 13, Naeem 0, Mashud 86*, Mushfiqur 67, Anisur Rahman 0*; Talha 2-34, Sajidul 2-43, Arafat 1-48).
DHAKA: First innings 237-4 in 91 overs (Javed 1, Anwar 54, Shamsur 30, Al Shahriar 54, Mehrab 49*, Marshall 15*; Nazmul 1-29, Kapali 2-34, Imtiaz 1-10).