Two national players who did not feature in Bangladesh's first Test against Pakistan in Rawalpindi shone on the opening day of the third round of the Bangladesh Cricket League (BCL) yesterday.
Mushfiqur Rahim, who opted out of the Rawalpindi Test due to security concerns, smashed a 157-ball 140 while playing for the BCB-run North Zone against East Zone at the Sheikh Kamal International Stadium in Cox's Bazar. Meanwhile, in the same match, off-spinner Nayeem Hasan -- who was not picked for the Rawalpindi Test – picked up an eight-wicket haul to help East Zone bundle out North Zone for 272 in 82.4 overs.
With Bangladesh's next assignment being a home series against Zimbabwe that includes a lone Test, three ODIs and two T20Is respectively starting from February 22, Mushfiqur's ton could not have come at a better time. There were murmurs of Mushfiqur not being included in the squad for the Zimbabwe Test as national head coach Russell Domingo earlier talked about continuing with an almost unchanged squad. However, that was before the innings and 44-run defeat in Rawalpindi.
On the day the 14-member squad for the first Pakistan Test was named in January, the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) chief selector Minhajul Abedin had mentioned that Mushfiqur would have to make his way back to the national side through performance.
And although recent developments suggest that Mushfiqur will remain in consideration for the Zimbabwe Test, the stalwart made his claim stronger with a stellar performance yesterday.
Mushfiqur came to bat at a time when North Zone were in a spot of bother, losing three for 46 in 21.5 overs, all three scalped by Nayeem. It was Mushfiqur who managed to stall Nayeem's run through the order as the national wicketkeeper-batsman somewhat revived his side through a 56-run stand with skipper Naeem Islam. However, Naeem too fell to a Nayeem delivery in the 39th over after a 64-ball 31. After that Mushfiqur strung a crucial 74-run partnership with Mahidul Islam, followed by another 58-run eighth-wicket stand with Sunzamul Islam, while Nayeem kept on breaking each growing partnership.
Mushfiqur too fell in the 82nd over but his innings, which lasted for over four hours and was laced with 16 boundaries and a solitary six, helped North Zone get to a respectable total. And if it was not for Mushfiqur's amazing knock, North Zone would have been blown away by Nayeem as the off-spinner finished with spectacular figures of eight for 107. After the exchange, East Zone lost two quick wickets and could only manage three for two before stumps.
Meanwhile, at the Academy ground of the same venue, Marshall Ayub's 186-ball 116 helped Central Zone post a modest 235 before being bundled out by the BCB-operated South Zone in 82.2 overs. National players like Nazmul Hossain Shanto and Saif Hassan, who played in the Pakistan Test, had a bleak day but it was an unbeaten 26-ball 30 from recently dropped Mustafizur Rahman down the order that contributed to Central's cause. After the exchange, South Zone finished on 29 for two before umpires called stumps.
This BCL round saw Mohammad Saifuddin, who was suffering from a back injury, return to action after five months as he featured for North Zone. Another national player, Mehedi Hasan Miraz also returned from a finger injury to play this round for Central Zone. However, none of these two national players impressed yesterday.
SCORES IN BRIEF
Central Zone: First innings 235 all out (Marshall 116, Zabid 21, Mustafizur 30 not out; Shafiul 2-24, Mahedi 3-78, Razzak 2-62, Nasum 2-51)
South Zone: First innings 29 for 2.
North Zone: First innings 272 all out (Rony 28, Naeem 31, Mushfiqur 140, Mahidul 23, Sunzamul 29; Mahmud 2-50, Nayeem 8-107)
East Zone: First innings 3 for 2.
Mushfiqur Rahim, who opted out of the Rawalpndi Test due to security concerns, smashed a 157-ball 140 while playing for North Zone against East Zone.
Another national player, Nayeem Hasan, took an eight-wicket haul for East Zone.
All-rounder Mohammad Saifuddin, who had been out of action since September 2019 when he played a T20I against Afghanistan, made a return to cricket as he featured for North Zone yesterday after recovering from his back injury.
Mehedi Hasan Miraz, who missed the first two rounds of BCL due to a finger injury, also returned for Central Zone.