Nazmul, Ebadat revel on grass
The pitch has been the centre of attention in both venues as the fifth round of the Bangladesh Cricket League started on green, grass-covered decks that have certainly encouraged the bowlers on the first day yesterday.
The pitch in Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium was lush green for most of its entire length, except for the full-length area around the crease which was dark brown. The North Zone batsmen however made a fair fist of it against East Zone, reaching 204 for five at the end of the first day.
At the Shaheed Kamruzzaman Stadium in Rajshahi, South Zone batsmen faced the music on the sporting track after being asked to bat. Central Zone pacer Ebadat Hossain's career-best figures of four for 32 from 12 overs along with another four-for from left-arm spinner Mosharraf Hossain helped bundle out South for 191.
Central Zone ended the day's play on 154 for two, trailing by 37 runs. Opener Shadman Islam will resume batting on the second day on 66 off 99 balls alongside Marshall Ayub on 14.
Off-spinner Nayeem Hasan took the wicket of young opener Saif Hasan, who scored 30, while Abdul Mazid was trapped leg-before after scoring 44 runs.
Earlier, despite a flying start by openers Anamul Haque and Fazle Mahmud that realised 64 runs for the opening wicket inside 11 overs, South Zone lost their way. Right-arm pacer Ebadat removed both openers, trapping Fazle leg-before for 40 off 41 balls with eight fours, before having Anamul caught for 23.
Almost all the South Zone batsmen got starts but were unable to capitalise. Imrul Kayes, returning to the side after missing the fourth round to perform Umrah, fell to Salauddin Sakil after scoring 26.
In-form Tushar Imran also fell cheaply, for 14, to Mosharraf while Ebadat picked up the wickets of Mohammad Mithun (18) and Nurul Hasan (28) as South Zone were teetering on 167 for seven.
Mosharraf then removed the tailenders and ended up with figures of four for 57 from 19.5 overs. Mosaddek Hossain remained unbeaten on 21 runs.
"We all know that we are used to playing on flat tracks in such tournaments but this wicket was difficult for the batsmen to adjust on initially. But I think these types of wickets will actually help batsmen to learn how to survive on such pitches, but at the same time I think our batsmen were unable to apply themselves," Mosaddek told reporters after the days' play in Rajshahi yesterday.
In Mirpur, seeing the green on offer East Zone skipper Mominul Haque did not hesitate to field first after winning the toss.
However, it was the off-spin of Shohag Gazi and Mohammad Ashraful that bagged two wickets each, while pacer Saifuddin -- the kind of bowling the pitch was presumably prepared to assist -- took one wicket for the bowling side.
Gazi removed both openers Junaid Siddique  and Mizanur Rahman (46 off 74 balls, five fours) while Saifuddin removed Farhad Hossain for seven.
Rain also played its part after lunch, causing a stoppage of over two hours. North Zone's young left-hander Nazmul Hossain Shanto then displayed great patience and skill to negotiate the dual bounce on offer -- with the ball keeping low at times -- to reach his fifty after play resumed.
North Zone however suffered a double blow from Ashraful as the disgraced former national captain removed Nazmul leg-before for 73 off 109 balls with 11 fours, and then followed it with a similar dismissal of Dhiman Ghosh for one.
Skipper Jahurul Islam batted sensibly and remained unbeaten on 43 alongside Ariful Haque on 17.