Just before the final over of a first division cricket league match between Old DOHS Sports Club and Agrani Bank Cricket Club yesterday, the match was stopped for over 10 minutes while an official of the batting team called the batsman on strike to the boundary for a long chat. That was followed by the batsman -- Tauhid Tarek on 53 off 52 balls -- returning to the umpire to tell him that he was unwell and could not continue. With four runs to win from six balls, the next batsman came in and played out six dot balls.
It was learnt that Agrani Bank officials had asked Tarek not to go for the win and, when he was unwilling to follow that directive, asked him to leave the ground. Shahidul Islam was the batsman who played out a maiden over as Agrani Bank eventually lost the game by three runs.
This shocking incident at the Khan Shaheb Osman Ali Stadium in Fatullah took place in the crucial super league stage of what is supposed to be the country's second-most professionally run domestic league.
If one argues that the last-over maiden was bowled by a genius against whom it was impossible to score, consider that when Agrani Bank required 34 off the last three overs, Tarek and Fazle took six runs in the 48th over and smashed 24 in the 49th to all but clinch the match.
Old DOHS had already confirmed the championship before the game with 27 points and eventually ended up at the top of the table with 29 points after the win and are set to be promoted to the Dhaka Premier League next season.
Agrani Bank, on 21 points, required a win against Old DOHS in the last game to become runners-up and also be promoted in the Premier League. But after the defeat the winner of the last game between Partex Sporting Club and Rupganj Tigers Club will instead be runners-up and gain promotion.
On 21 points, Partex will face Rupganj (19 points) and if the latter manage to beat Partex in the last game today they will also attain 21 points. Rupganj, however, will be promoted through the head to head equation.
According to a witness present at the ground who talked to The Daily Star, Agrani Bank officials had told the batsman that if he does not lose this game the top authorities will make sure that the team would be demoted to second division next season.
The Agrani Bank team manager Nazrul Islam, who answered his cell phone after sever attempts were made to contact him, said that he was not aware of the events as he was not present at the ground yesterday.
This one is just the latest in a long list of incidents in the first, second and third division leagues and despite headlines, the brazenness of officials trying to fix entire tournaments seem unaffected.