Khulna Division became champions of the National Cricket League (NCL) for a record seventh time when they defeated Dhaka Division by nine wickets on the fourth day of the sixth and final round at the Sheikh Abu Naser Stadium in Khulna yesterday.
The hosts finished unbeaten in the league, winning three of six games while drawn the rest, and accumulated 39.81 points to finish on top of Tier 1.
Khulna skipper Nurul Hasan, who was awarded the player-of-the-match for his unbeaten 227-ball 150 in their first innings, said he was happier with his contribution to the team’s win than with his unbeaten ton.
“I always say that I prefer and think that it is important to win a match after scoring 20 runs rather than losing a game after scoring a century. For instance, we had a good partnership in the middle [of the first innings] because of which we were able to take a big [100-run] lead and because of that we won the match. So, it feels really good. More than scoring a hundred, I feel good that my runs had an impact and that we won and became champions,” said the wicketkeeper-batsman.
Dhaka, who trailed by 100 runs in their second innings, were bundled out for 216 after resuming the day on 102 for five. Raqibul Hasan was the top scorer for Dhaka with a 227-ball 99-run knock.
Following the exchange, Khulna romped to victory in just 25.4 overs in chase of 117 for the loss of a solitary wicket. Opener Anamul Haque remained unbeaten for a 76-ball 79.
Nurul said that the task for his team was not easy as they missed the likes of experienced left-arm spinner Abdur Razzak in the final round and had to deal with a few injuries in the middle of the game.
However, he mentioned that the competitiveness in the tournament had increased. He also said that the Bangladesh Cricket Board’s initiative of increasing the minimum fitness requirements at the start of this year’s tournament had made the players more aware.
“The tournament was much more competitive than before. I think it will improve further in the future. And regarding the beep test, it actually created awareness among the players so everyone became more concerned about fitness. It was very competitive and everyone showed their eagerness to play well and win.”
He also mentioned that the availability of true wickets across the country also helped increasing the competitiveness of the tournament.
“If it is a true wicket then it helps both bowlers and batsmen. We played three matches in Khulna and they were all on true wickets. That was also the case in Mirpur. The batsmen had to work hard and the bowlers had to maintain good length. Overall, it was better than the previous seasons.” concluded Nurul.
Meanwhile, in Rajshahi, a 155-run thumping at the hands of Rangpur Division saw Rajshahi Division relegated to Tier 2 after finishing at the bottom of the Tier-1 table with 18.65 points. In chase of a 249-run target, Rajshahi were bundled out for a meagre 93 runs.
In Barishal, the match between Dhaka Metropolis and Barishal Division ended in a draw, which meant that the former finished in second spot in Tier 2 while the latter remained in third place. Sylhet had already confirmed their promotion to Tier 1.