After an eventful opening round, the second round of the ongoing 21st edition of the National Cricket League (NCL) is set to begin today with Dhaka Division taking on Rangpur Division in Chattogram while Khulna Division will face off against defending champions Rajshahi Division at home in the Tier-1 games. Tier-2 teams Barishal Division will battle it out with Chattogram Division in Fatullah and Dhaka Metropolis will play against Sylhet Division in Bogura.
There was more hype surrounding this edition than usual with national players participating and the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) emphasising on fitness by raising the required level in the beep tests before the tournament. The excitement will only increase in the second round as the national selectors keep a close eye on performances and chief selector Minhajul Abedin said on Tuesday that the squad for next month’s India tour will be named after the end of the second round.
Bangladesh left-arm pacer Mustafizur Rahman, who sat out the opening round of the NCL due to a slight problem in his ankle, is expected to feature for Khulna. However, as Minhajul mentioned on Tuesday, the 24-year-old cannot bowl more than 15 overs in the second round.
Left-handed opener Tamim Iqbal, who has been going through a lean patch since the World Cup, could not convert starts into big scores in the first round. The 30-year-old, who was seen toiling hard during practice in Mirpur yesterday, will look rediscover his form and head to India in confident mood when he turns out for Chattogram in the second round.
Meanwhile, this round will see the return of the likes of Nazmul Hossain Shanto, Sunzamul Islam, Saif Hassan, Anamul Haque and Ariful Haque, all of whom have come back from Bangladesh A’s tour of Sri Lanka. Opener Liton Das, who also missed the first round due to his Caribbean Premier League commitments, is available and expected to play for Rangpur in this round.
Barishal’s Shohagh Gazi and Chattogram’s Yasir Ali, who failed the beep test, were however allowed by BCB to play after being warned by the board that it would be the last time that they would be shown leniency.