Ashraful, Meharb steer CentralStaff Correspondent
Mohammad Ashraful put his poor form behind to hit a century and Mehrab Hossain Jr added another one to give Walton Central Zone a vital first innings lead over BCB North Zone in the Bangladesh Cricket League in Bogra on Friday.
In the other match at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium, Nabil Samad claimed 6-81 as Islami Bank East Zone clawed their way back to scent a win over Prime Bank South Zone.
Central Zone were in danger of falling behind North’s first innings total of 361 all out when Ashraful and Mehrab resumed the third day’s play at 170-4, but the duo batted sensibly to take their side to a comfortable position.
Ashraful, who averaged 13 in the National Cricket League, made his experience count hitting 133 and Mehrab, his partner in a record 228-run fifth wicket stand, followed him up with a similarly crucial 131 as Central Zone finished the day on 434-8.
Unbeaten on 48 overnight, Ashraful completed his fifty off the seventh ball of the morning when he hit Farhad Reza for a four and was unusually calm until he reached close to three-figure mark.
He struck left-arm Sohrawardi Shuvo for three boundaries in one over, the second of which brought up his century, the right-hander’s first significant innings of the season.
An edge flew towards the boundary between the wicketkeeper and first slip in the next over, giving Ashraful a new lease of life on 107 and the former captain was soon undone by Naeem Islam with Farhad Reza taking the catch.
Mehrab was batting on 91 when Ashraful left, but having been unaffected by the loss of his partner the former Test opener ensured Central kept their momentum going. A single off Nasir Hossain earned him his century from 263 balls with his side 27 runs away from taking the lead.
Saqlain Sajib got rid of Mehrab and Mosharraf Hossain in his successive overs to give North skipper Mushfiqur Rahim some relief. Mushfiq was so frustrated with his bowlers that for the first time in his career he decided to try himself as a bowler and to his surprise he had some rewards too.
The Bangladesh skipper bowled 10 overs and took the wicket of Nurul Hasan, his first in first-class wicket, which entertained the local crowd and gave the North Zone bowlers something to cheer with at the end of the day.
At the SBNS, Nabil provided an answer to Sohag Gazi and Abdur Razzak’s spin to help Islami Bank East Zone dismiss Prime Bank South Zone for 248 runs in their second innings.
Chasing a target of 265 runs East Zone lost the wicket of Shahriar Nafees (23) in the 10th over of their innings, but Nafees Iqbal and Rajin Saleh added 93 runs for the second wicket to keep them on course.
Nafees was out three balls before the stumps when Robiul Islam had him lbw for 63 with an yorker, but Rajin Saleh (36 not out) and Mominul Haque (five not out) remained firm at the crease.
With eight wickets in hand, East Zone need only 127 runs on the final day to become the first side to post a win in the newly-launched first-class tournament.
South Zone resumed third day’s play from a comfortable position of 129-1, but an early dismissal of overnight batsmen Soumya Sarker and Anamul Haque dented their chance.
Soumya was unable to add any run to his overnight 48 while Anamul could add just eight before he departed for 73. None of the other batsmen could play any significant innings as they were all out on their identical score of the first innings.
Stumps, Day 3
North Zone v Central Zone
North Zone 361 in 111.5 overs (Junaed Siddique 78, Mushfiqur Rahim 76 not out Farhad Hossain 74, Maisuqur Rahman 49, Naeem Islam 36; Elias Sunny 3-80, Shahadat Hossain 2-43, Mosharraf Hossain 2-122) v Central Zone 434-8 in 156 overs (Mohammad Ashraful 133, Mehrab
Hossain Jr 131, Marshal Ayub 40; Sajidul Islam 3-101, Saqlain Sajib 2-98).
Toss: North Zone.
South Zone v East Zone
South Zone 248 & 248 in 91 overs (Anamul Haque 73, Soumya Sarkar 48, Tushar Imran 38; Nabil Samad 6-81, Tapash Baisya 3-25) v East Zone 232 & 138-2 in 42 overs (Nafees Iqbal 63, Rajeen Saleh 36 not out).
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