The pitch was flat at the BKSP but chief selector Minhajul Abedin still praised the efforts of Mominul Haque, who was unbeaten on 169 after the end of the opening day of the first-round match of the Bangladesh Cricket League (BCL) yesterday.
The left-hander's knock contained 18 fours and two sixes and put Islami Bank East Zone in a strong position against Prime Bank South Zone as they finished the day on 340 for five. While Minhajul praised Mominul's batting, selector Habibul Bashar rued Walton Central Zone batsmen's inability to deal with movement from the BCB North Zone pacers as Central were dismissed for 188 runs at the Sylhet International Cricket Stadium.
Mominul has an unofficial tag of being Test specialist, mainly due to former Bangladesh coach Chandika Hathurusingha's aversion to picking him in the shorter formats, and played his last ODI against Sri Lanka in Melbourne in February 2015. Although he was drafted in the ODI squad during the tour of South Africa last year, things have not changed much following the departure of Chandika as the selectors did not consider him for the first two matches of the tri-series despite the team management's long-standing but hitherto futile attempts to solve the number three riddle in the national team.
Mominul's fluent batting -- he scored at the strike rate of 81.64 -- reminded the selectors that he can be a contender for the number three spot. “I must say Mominul batted brilliantly on the first day,” said Minhajul, who was at the BKSP to watch the game yesterday.
The league has been considered as a platform for players like Liton Das and Soumya Sarkar, who were dropped from the ODI squad for the tri-series, to get back among the runs but Liton failed for East Zone in the first innings as the right-hander was dismissed for 20 runs and interestingly the bowler was Soumya, who however will need to make his bat speak to get back his place in the national side.
One stat that will be enough to understand the nature of the pitch was that two pacers in Kamrul Islam and Ziaur Rahman bowled only a combined 17 overs out of 83 after a delayed start to the game due to fog.
At Sylhet, pace bowling all-rounder Ariful Haque claimed four wickets, apart from pacers Shafiul Islam, Subhasish Roy's two-wicket hauls and Forhad Reza's solitary scalp that only portrayed the helplessness of the Central Zone batsmen on a pitch where the ball moved a little.
“Not that much, but there was some movement and the batsmen failed to cope against the pace bowlers,” said Bashar, who was in Sylhet to watch the match.
Central Zone were bundled out for 188 but things could have been worse had Irfan Shakkur not top-scored with an unbeaten 57 off 55 balls.
Nazmul Hossain and Mizanur Rahman then made a confident start for North Zone, who ended the day at 93 without loss.