The second round of the Bangladesh Cricket League, which begins today, will essentially be the last phase of practice for the Bangladesh national players ahead of the Sri Lanka Test series beginning on January 27.
Mushfiqur Rahim's North Zone will take on Tamim Iqbal's East Zone, while Mahmudullah Riyad's Central Zone will face Abdur Razzak's South Zone at the BKSP in Savar.
The first round of four-day games, which witnessed six centuries including Shamsur Rahman's double, saw batmen dominate on flat decks. While the second round will be taking place at the same venue, the curator is expected to make the wickets more bowler-friendly in order to further test the batsmen as per Mushfiqur's desire.
It's a good move considering the fact that the Sri Lankan top order has been among the runs. Almost all of their top six have hit form in the ongoing Pakistan series and a lot will depend on Bangladesh's bowling in the upcoming Test.
The second round -- which is the last opportunity for the national selectors to build their team -- will see a number of aspects in focus; the most important of which is finalising a partner for Tamim Iqbal at the top.
Anamul Haque, who played in the Tigers' last Test, failed to perform in the first round, scoring just three in South Zone's only innings. With the likes of Imrul Kayes and Shamsur Rahman scoring centuries and Nazimuddin hitting form as well, it will be interesting to see who the selectors eventually decide to field.
Also in focus is North Zone's Naeem Islam, who is taking all the right steps towards a Test comeback. Naeem scored a century at number four in the first round and has been among the runs lately. To find a way back to national colours he will have to win the race against either Marshall Ayub or Mominul Haque, the players who batted at three and four respectively in the last Test. Mominul's imperious form in the series against New Zealand however makes it highly unlikely that his spot is in question.
From the bowling point of view the focus will be on South Zone's Rubel Hossain, who missed out on the last four-dayer due to a sore back. The team management will hope that he churns out a performance similar to what teammate Robiul Islam put in when the Sathkhira lad got five wickets on a dead pitch in the first round.
All the analysis, of course, can only take place if the weather permits. The last round saw both matches lose at least a day due to winter fog. Encouragingly, according to the weather forecast the upcoming week is not expected to be hazy.