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NCL starts with more attention

  • Published at 09:27 pm October 9th, 2019
NCL
NCL trophy is shown by Mominul Haque and Marshal Ayub on Wednesday Dhaka Tribune

With eight teams, divided into two tiers, the tournament in the first round will have four matches taking place in Dhaka, Khulna and Rajshahi.

The 21st National Cricket League is all set to raise its curtain today. However, unlike the past few seasons, the first-class cricket tournament based on divisional teams of the country has attracted decent attention with participation of players from the current national setup.

With eight teams, divided into two tiers, the tournament in the first round will have four matches taking place in Dhaka, Khulna and Rajshahi.

In tier one, Rajshahi Division will take on Dhaka Division at Fatullah’s Khan Shaheb Osman Ali Stadium, while Rangpur will face Khulna at Sheikh Abu Naser Stadium in Khulna. In tier two, Chittagong will play Dhaka Metro at Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur while at Shahid Kamruzzaman Stadium in Rajshahi Barishal will lock horns with Sylhet.

Active participation of the current national cricketers has been made mandatory in the first two rounds of the tournament in order to prepare for the Bangladesh’s upcoming tour of India. Bangladesh will travel to India for a three-match T20I series followed by a two-match Test series in November.

Ace all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan and young pace bowling all-rounder Saifuddin, however, will not be a part. Shakib has been busy with his stint for Barbados Tridents in the ongoing Caribbean Premier League T20 while Saifuddin is suffering from a back injury and has been advised to not play longer version cricket. Off-spinner Mehedi Hasan Miraz will be rested from the opening game considering his recent work load.

The only exception, however, has been left-arm pacer Mustafizur Rahman. The Khulna team, for an unexplained reason, has opted to deploy him only for the second round of the tournament. Mustafizur’s decision has added fuel to the discussion where it is considered that the pacer has “no interest in longer-version cricket.”

Rajshahi will perhaps feature the most number of national cricketers from the current setup in the shape of Mushfiqur Rahim, Sabbir Rahman, Farhad Reza, Taijul Islam and Shafiul Islam. Khulna will receive service from Soumya Sarker, Miraz, Rubel Hossain and Mustafizur. Abu Jayed Chowdhury and Ebadot Hossain will bolster the Sylhet bowling attack while national opener Tamim Iqbal and Mominul Haque will bat for Chittagong with Naeem Hasan as their spin option. Dhaka Metro and Barishal will have Mahmudullah and Mosaddek Hossain in action respectively.

Coming to the team management and officials, former Bangladesh cricketer Aftab Ahmed is at the center of discussion for his debut as head coach in first-class cricket. The former right-handed Bangladesh batsman praised the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) for taking the initiative to turn NCL into a competitive tournament. The BCB, this year, had set a minimum level of fitness needed by the cricketers to participate in the tournament. There were cases where a few of the famed cricketers including the likes of Abdur Razzak, Nasir Hossain, Tushar Imran and others had failed to pass the fitness test but were eventually allowed to be selected for the season considering their respective track records in domestic cricket.

“We often see people calling this tournament as ‘picnic cricket,’ BCB has taken the initiative to shred that tag from this tournament. As a professional cricketer, one should take all tournaments on a serious note,” said Aftab to the reporters in Mirpur on Wednesday.

“In Chittagong, we tried to inject professionalism into the cricketers for them to take the NCL seriously. Tamim, Mominul and even I had to play this tournament and then make it to the national team. We always try to make the young cricketers understand this fact,” Aftab added.