The 18th edition of the country's premier first-class competition, the National Cricket League, gets underway this Sunday at four different venues – Rajshahi, Bogra, Khulna and Sylhet.
The NCL, set to be played in two tiers for only the second time ever, will be contested by Barisal, Dhaka Metropolis, Khulna and Dhaka in the top tier while the bottom tier features Rajshahi, Rangpur, Chittagong and Sylhet.
Here, Dhaka Tribune Sport previews two teams – Chittagong and Sylhet – ahead of the tournament opener in two days' time.
Chittagong have lost their charm in Bangladesh's cricketing circuit and the side’s results in the previous season of the NCL were a burning example; the port-city outfit had finished fourth in the second tier. In six matches, the side won none, lost two and drew the other four to finish with 38 points.
The two-tier system was introduced last year to encourage competition among the eight teams. But it had hardly any impact on Chittagong, a side which still carry the “lazy” tag. Team practice was irregular in the last couple of seasons and it is no different this year.
Chittagong have a pretty similar squad to that of last season with experienced opening batsman Nafees Iqbal suffering from eye infection. The side include potentially talented youngsters like Irfan Sukkur and Yasir Ali. The duo though are yet to prove their mettle and will no doubt eye a productive campaign this time around.
With a single win and three draws in six matches, Sylhet finished seventh in the 17th NCL. The team had failed to do justice to their potential last season but with new and young players coming in this year, the side are ambitious of being promoted to the top tier.
The north-eastern city boast the likes of freshly graduated Under-19 wicketkeeper-batsman Zakir Hossain and young off-spinner Shahanur Rahman while veteran campaigners Alok Kapali, Rajin Saleh and Enamul Haque Jr will boost the side's prospects.