Dashing left-handed Chittagong opener Tamim Iqbal takes off for a single after gliding the ball towards square-leg on the final day of his side's four-day match of the National League at Khulna yesterday. Photo: tigercricket.com
Rajshahi maintained hundred percent record in the first-class competition of the 9th National Cricket League when they handed Barisal an eight-wicket victory yesterday to storm to the top of the table with 30 points.
Second-time unlucky Khulna, who collected 11 points away in Dhaka in the drawn opening round match were once again held, this time in another tight finish at home by Chittagong, to stay at second place with 23 points.
After Dhaka's win over Sylhet inside three days, the remaining two matches of the second round finished in contrasting styles on the fourth and final day.
Rajshahi took just 28 deliveries to wrap up the show against surprise pack Barisal, who had upset Chittagong in the first round, while Chittagong fought hard to keep an imposing Khulna attack at bay.
Dhaka, with 16 points from the second round, moved to third with 21 and were followed by Barisal (18), Chittagong (11) and Sylhet (7) -- all three bottom-half sides collecting four points each from the round.
Visiting Barisal added just six runs to their overnight 216-9 in the second innings to set a meagre 9-run target for Rajshahi at the Rajshahi Divisional Stadium.
Ali Arman Rajan was the last man to be dismissed in the second over of the morning when Rajshahi medium pacer Mushfiqur Rahman had him caught behind in his fifth delivery.
However, the hosts -- taking it too casually -- lost opener Jahirul Islam and number three Rafiqul Islam to score nine runs off 2.5 overs.
Captain Khaled Mashud was adjudged man of the match.
Khulna were denied from an outright victory in the competition for the second time as Chittagong, set to score an improbable 367 in the fourth innings, finished on 252 for seven at the Khulna Divisional Stadium.
Resuming on 25 without loss, the tourists lost Nafees Iqbal for 27 but his younger brother Tamim Iqbal shared in a significant partnership to guide Chittagong out of troubled waters.
Nafees left the side on 51 and Gazi Salahuddin departed without adding anything to the total before hard-hitting Tamim, banned (serving for the limited-overs competition) for a scuffle with Talha Jubair in the last round, had to check his style.
The left-hander scored an unusually patient 81 off 166 balls to repair the damage, sharing 98 runs with fellow Tiger Nazimuddin (56 off 197 balls).
Tamim was bowled by left-arm spinner and man-of-the-match Shakib Al Hasan, but Chittagong further frustrated Habibul Bashar's side when Nazimuddin and Faisal Hossain (48 off 72 balls) put on 79 runs for the fourth wicket.
At this point of the game, national pace duo Mashrafe Bin Mortaza and Syed Rasel threw Khulna a lifeline, removing the two set batsmen and Dhiman Ghosh on the same score of 228.
However, skipper Ehsanul Haque (13 off 48 balls) and Ashiqur Rahman (5 not out off 50 balls) survived the next 14 overs before Khulna struck again.
It was Mashrafe, bowling off-spinners due to inadequate light towards the fag end, who trapped Ehsanul lbw but that came too late as the home side got just four more overs to bowl without success.
SCORES IN BRIEF
RAJSHAHI: 301 and 9-2 in 2.5 overs (Jahirul 5, Rabiul 1*, Rafiqul 0, Naeem 1*; Talha 1-3, Sajidul 1-4)
BARISAL: 87 and 222.
Result: Rajshahi won by 8 wickets
KHULNA: 410 and 204
CHITTAGONG: 248 and 252-7 in 103 overs (Nafees 27, Tamim 81, Salahuddin 0, Nazimuddin 56, Faisal 48, Ehsanul 13, Dhiman 0, Ashiqur 5*, Tareq 2*, Mashrafe 2-67, Rasel 2-59, Ziaur 2-20, Shakib 1-32).
Result: Match drawn