South Zone escaped with a draw against Central Zone to book a place in the Bangladesh Cricket League final. They will now take on East Zone to have a shot at their fifth title, and third in a row, in the five-day final at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium, in Chattogram from February 22.
South Zone, who had erroneously declared their first innings on 114 for 4 – 121 runs behind Central Zone’s 235 all out – in a bid to deprive them of a bowling bonus point, had to bat out the final day and a half in Cox’s Bazar to ensure that they at least drew the game. South Zone had thought they would deprive Central Zone from getting points for taking five wickets, which led to the declaration. However, when Central Zone took a massive lead, South Zone ended up having to bat for 144 overs to draw the game, since a loss would have not only given Central Zone more points, but also an additional bonus point for having won two matches in a row.
After Shamsur Rahman made 133 and Anamul Haque and Nasum Ahmed got out in the eighties, it was down to the last pair of Farhad Reza and Shafiul Islam to bat out the remaining 9.4 overs to ensure survival. South Zone finished on 386 for 9 in 144 overs, with Shamsur hitting 18 fours and a six in his 230-ball innings.
After South Zone’s declaration on the first day, Najmul Hossain Shanto struck his maiden double-century to give Central Zone a massive 506-run lead. Shanto made an unbeaten 253 off 310 balls, with 25 fours and nine sixes. The match also saw Marshall Ayub reach 8,000 first-class runs during his 116 on the first day.
At the ground next door, Mushfiqur Rahim struck his eleventh first-class hundred but couldn’t prevent East Zone from beating North Zone by eight wickets.
Batting first, North Zone were restricted to 272 runs with Nayeem Hasan taking 8 for 107, the second eight-wicket haul in an innings in his first-class career. Yasir Ali’s 165 then gave East Zone a 59-run lead, and perhaps won him a place in the Bangladesh side for the upcoming one-off Test against Zimbabwe.
Left-arm spinner Sunzamul Islam took 7 for 115, the fifth time he has taken seven or more wickets in an innings. North Zone were then bowled out for 269 runs, with Nayeem taking a second five-for, which gave him his best match bowling figures of 13 for 208.
Yasir then struck a second century on the fourth day, taking his team to a comfortable victory.