After rather disappointing batting displays across the first three games of the BCB President's Cup and more talk of rust, all eyes were on the batsmen. Ahead of the tournament, selectors stated they would keep a close eye on the attitude and approach of the players regardless of their score and perhaps they will be impressed to see someone like Afif Hossain finally stepping up.
Rated as one of the cricketers with the most potential, Afif was unable to make an impression in his first two games, scoring just four and 15. Finally, the 21-year-old, who has already made his international debut in the limited-overs format, showed his class and played a magnificent 98-run knock.
It was yet again a pressure situation for Najmul XI, who found themselves struggling on 31 for three after being sent in to bat. That is when the left-hander strode onto the crease to join Mushfiqur Rahim, who followed up his century in his last outing with a half-century.
The duo added a magnificent 147-run fourth-wicket stand and, coupled with left-hander Irfan Shukkur's quick 48, Najmul XI posted a challenging total of 264 for 8 in fifty overs.
Known for his electrifying presence, Afif took no time to get settled and kept pushing for cheeky singles. The pair gradually started to accelerate, with young Afif assuming the role of the aggressor and caught the eye with his stroke-making ability.
There was also concern about throwing wickets away after being set, but Afif this time utilised the opportunity and looked hungry to score big.
His hand-eye coordination and good use of feet made life difficult for the bowlers and he reached his 50 off 69 balls with a gorgeous inside out drive to the boundary off off-spinner Mehedi Hasan Miraz.
At the other end, Mushfiqur took his time despite being in brilliant touch as Afif took bowlers all over the ground.
The left-hander calmed after reaching his fifty and paced his innings well in the middle overs, rotating the strike every now and then.
But after getting into the seventies, Afif once again started to put pressure on the bowlers without taking any extra risks and employing proper cricketing strokes. His classical cover drive for a boundary to pacer Sumon Khan off the full face of the bat was perhaps the shot of the day.
He then took Mahmudullah Riyad for a six over deep mid-wicket, followed by a boundary to reach his nineties.
But, as in the previous game, Mushfiqur was involved in some miscommunication while taking a quick single and Afif's knock ended two runs shy of a well-deserved century.
SCORES IN BRIEF
Najmul XI: 264 for 8 in 50 overs (Mushfiqur 52, Afif 98, Irfaan 48 not out; Ebadat 2-60, Rubel-3-53).
Mahmudullah XI: 133 all out in 32.1 overs (Nurul 28 not out; Nasum 3-23, Rahi 3-34, Rishad 2-26)
Result: Najmul XI won by 131 runs.