Chittagong: Fall from grace | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, May 16, 2011 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, May 16, 2011

Chittagong: Fall from grace


The 12th National Cricket League has concluded on May 14, bringing an end to the country's first-class season. Eight months ago, The Daily Star Sport ran previews of all six divisional sides taking part in the competition and now it will evaluate all six campaigns, starting with Chittagong. Tomorrow, the second part of this series will be published.
It is an astounding piece of stat that a team that has Nazimuddin, Faisal Hossain, Gazi Salahuddin, Aftab Ahmed and Mahbubul Karim could muster only a solitary century in five National Cricket League four-day games this season.
Chittagong, the runners-up of the 11th NCL, scraped the bottom of this year's competition after some of the broadest bats in the country hardly put a foot right.
The port city side drew more games than they won this season; they reached their nadir when Rajshahi bowled them out for 72 and 108, wrapping up the game in just two days.
In Bogra's Shaheed Chandu Stadium, the Chittagong batsmen succumbed to Forhad Reza who ended up with five wickets. Though Rajshahi took a slim lead, Chittagong failed again with pace bringing them down like nine pins.
They suffered because Nazimuddin, their best batsman of the campaign, was in South Africa playing for Bangladesh A at the time. He has been the only saving grace, though he only struck a century and a fifty in the three games he turned up for before leaving for South Africa.
"He did brilliantly this season and earned the call-up to the A side. But it was a big blow for us, you know," said Chittagong coach Nurul Abedin Nobel.
Nazimuddin's only century came against Khulna, also the best day for Chittagong in the competition when they piled up 395 runs but eventually had to be content with a drawn game.
But former opening batsman Nobel pointed out that it was a game against Barisal that hurt Chittagong. "It was a rain-affected match and we were supposed to get 10 points. They gave us three because Barisal's innings wasn't complete. I think we never recovered from there," he explained.
Apart from Nazimuddin, only Mominul Haque Sourav stood out, the youngster from Cox's Bazaar impressing with his solid approach that yielded three fiftiesm, but all-rounder Mahmudul Hasan was a let-down. "He has a good future. He is a compact player and has the basics worked out quite well," said Nobel.
Another of Chittagong's predicaments was their bowling, with only left-arm seamer Kamrul Islam picking up 17 wickets and leading the bowling pack. Though bowling has always been Chittagong's weak link, to have only two bowlers taking more than ten wickets (left-arm spinner Nazmul Islam being the other one) puts a lot of pressure on the batsmen.
Aftab's presence throughout the first-class campaign didn't help much either as the discarded Tigers batsmen contributed very little -- 117 runs at 14.62. His lean showing followed him everywhere this season, resulting in his non-selection in the initial 30-man squad for the World Cup.
Another major blow was having Faisal out of form, as the last season's hero was nowhere to be seen. His left-arm spin got him only three wickets while with the bat Faisal only hit one half-century.
It comes as a surprise to many that Chittagong has gone down to such depths this season, despite having a Test venue at their disposal and the presence of a number of influential organisers. Yet, first-class cricket seems to be an orphan for those blinded by the success of hosting World Cup matches and the lure of the Port City Cricket League (PCL).
Though it is not clear when the PCL will be held again, players of this division have been found to be more attracted towards the glitz and glamour of the Twenty20 tournament than the NCL.
They did miss the services of Tamim Iqbal, but this particular problem (of missing national players) has hit Chittagong less than other teams such as Khulna.
Position in 2010-11:
Sixth (no wins)
Top scorer: Nazimuddin (284 runs)
Most wickets: Kamrul Islam (17 wickets)
High point: 395-4 dec. against Khulna
Low point: All out for 72 and 108 against Rajshahi

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