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Mohammad Ashraful came onto the scene without much hype. Unlike other batsman such as Nafis Iqbal who were the talk of the town even before any international matches, it is Ashraful who is undoubtedly our star batsman. This is not to say that he is there yet, but he is at present the closest of any Bangladeshi batsman. He is our Little Maestro, our Master Blaster. While nowhere near the calibre of Sachin Tendulkar, Ashraful has had far fewer resources to aid him.

Mohammad Ashraful

Published: 26th October, 2004

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Mohammad Ashraful came onto the scene without much hype. Unlike other batsman such as Nafis Iqbal who were the talk of the town even before any international matches, it is Ashraful who is undoubtedly our star batsman. This is not to say that he is there yet, but he is at present the closest of any Bangladeshi batsman. He is our Little Maestro, our Master Blaster. While nowhere near the calibre of Sachin Tendulkar, Ashraful has had far fewer resources to aid him.

Mohammad Ashraful

Mohammad Ashraful

Ashraful burst onto the scene in late 2001 as another spin bowler on the test squad in Sri Lanka. Batting way down in the order at number 6 or 7, the dimunitive 17 year old (some say he was only 16) may have surprised many by making a helpful 26 runs in the first innings. In fact, if some of our openers managed that many we would be quite proud. However, Bangladesh was to find itself in the record books, and oddly enough it was going to be a record to be proud of. Ashraful became the youngest test centurion with a superb 114. During his innings he repeatedly smashed Sri Lanka's world class Murali to the ropes.

The aftermath of this feat was not so bright. Despite showing flashes of brilliance, Ashraful, like so many before him and so many after, left fans scratching their heads. Was this some kind of cruel cricket joke? Was Bangladesh only to achieve moments of happiness a few times a decade? Ashraful's stats were on the better side for Bangladesh yet still nowhere near the top in terms of international standard. Finally, under the wisdom of Dav Whatmore, Ashraful was dropped from the squad during the home series one year ago against England.

Making his return this past February, Ashraful began to show the first glimpses of his enormous potential. Its rather like a business man who finally starts to get returns on a seemingly great investment. A mature innings of 98, while dissappointing for the century that wasn't, still showed that Ashraful was a batsman's batsman. Following up with big performances in every test series he has played in since shows that he is reaching his potential at last. Perhaps a year from now, the world will realize this young talent for what he is. It all depends on Ashraful himself.

Here are some stats for those who think Ashraful, far from being a world class batsman (I admit he's not there yet) isn't even Bangladesh's best batsman.

Most people consider Habibul Bashar to be our best Test batsman citing his 3 centuries and solid average of 35.84 runs. While I fully agree, Ashraful has more potential and at only 20, has more years. Furthermore, while his Test batting average is only in the low 20s, since being dropped, he is averaging around 33 runs per innings. He also has 3 50s in 8 innings. Whereas, he had 3 fifties in his previous nearly 40 innings or so. With Bashar, and Rajin Saleh in the middle order, Ashraful really has a chance to shine in Tests. And of course he is one of the few Batsmen who can score a decent pace in the one day game.

Mohammad Ashraful is the only Bangladesh batsmen who is currently in form in both ODIs and Tests. This is nothing other than a good omen. Our sincere hope is that Nafis Iqbal follows in Ashraful's footsteps albeit a little bit faster.

 

About the author(s): Asaad Wahid is a distinguished member of Banglacricket forum and he goes by the nick al Furqaan.

 

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