Oh God, I am so lucky to have witnessed that magical innings from Ashraful the other day (or night, or late night, depending where one was located). The reason to take a while to write is because I wanted sanity to return to my life after two (almost) sleepless nights. Like the other front page article, it seemed to me more like a dream ? not only the batting in the first innings but also the total reverse in the second ? all in a matter of a few hours.
This must be the best $3 (that is the charge for viewing it online) I have EVER spent in my life. We were precariously placed at 54 for 3 and I was dreading the usual would happen - that is, be around 7 down for 100 and then the later batsmen taking us to somewhere between 175 and 200. But God had a different script written for us. To be fair, Bashar seemed more restrained than before in this innings; but to be honest, he totally gave away his wicket, yet again. Just imagine what would have happened if Bashar just gave more support to Ashraful. We ever so rarely see Bashar in full cry. I am still waiting for that.
The innings that Ashraful played will not happen ever so often, but it just showed to the cricketing world what he is capable of doing on his day. Ravi Shastri thought he must be one of the best 20-year-old playing test cricket in the world. Someone said he was the Aravinda De Silva of Bangladesh. To me, the best over was when he drove through the extra cover region for 4, a ball from Pathan in copy book style, and then followed that up with almost an identical shot. Two balls later he sent the ball crashing to the midwicket fence. Neither the fielders nor he moved a bit. These were no slogs or unconventional shots, this was batting par excellence. He gave no chance before his century.
Gavaskar noted that such forms rub on to the fellow team players. I thought Aftab played a really wonderful innings and the support he gave to Ashraful was tremendous. It was a treat to the eye (which were burning in my case, by that time) to see two young guys in full control of the Indian bowling. Even their running between the wickets bore marks of confidence. The 30 minutes after lunch must be the best half an hour of batting for Bangladesh in test cricket to date. I got my money?s worth during those 30 minutes alone. Although, I do not think he should have played it, but the reverse sweep that Ashraful executed had confidence written all over it. I hope these two youngsters form the core of our middle order for many years to come. I know we got a bad call or two from the umpires, but this is all part of the game. The umpires do not have the benefit of the slow motion replays that the commentators have.
Monday?s Daily Star had the following in their front page: Pathan spoils Ashraful?s ton. I would rather say, Bangladesh spoils Ashraful?s ton. Pathan was bowling wonderfully, but he did that in the first innings as well. Suddenly, that will to fight was lacking in the second innings in our boys. This must be checked. Nafis got an unplayable first ball, but the others should have taken the fight to the bowler. All the commentators were saying that Bangladesh looked a much determined side in this test. I did not see that in the second innings, the consistency problem persists. We scored around 400 runs and lost 16 wickets in that eventful third day. I would have been satisfied with around 300 runs if we had lost not more than 10 wickets.
It would be unfair if I did not write a line or two about Whatmore. I do not know where he gets his confidence from, many a coach would have given up by now. But he has stuck to his pupils with a belief for the future. Good luck to the team for the ODIs. Keep up the fight, victory will follow.
The author is a distinguished member of banglacricket forum and goes by the nick "cricket46" - editors