Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Ashraful fails, Mashrafee sails for Tigers

Azad Majumder. Chittagong

Bangladesh’s Mashrafee bin Murtaza (C) is watched by Sri Lankan wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene as he plays a shot during the second day of the second and final Test match at the Chittagong Divisional Stadium on Sunday. — AFP photo
Bangladesh’s Mashrafee bin Murtaza (C) is watched by Sri Lankan wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene as he plays a shot during the second day of the second and final Test match at the Chittagong Divisional Stadium on Sunday. — AFP photo

An extraordinary effort by Mashrafee bin Murtaza saved Bangladesh from following on in the second Test against Sri Lanka on Sunday, but that hardly came as a consolation as a huge defeat is still on cards unless the hosts make a significant turnaround.
Blame again shifted on Mohammad Ashraful, the Bangladesh captain, who set yet another example of how irresponsible one can be when he attempted a reverse sweep against Muttiah Muralitharan being totally unmindful of his team’s situation and was caught behind.
In the eighth year of his Test career Ashraful was waiting only for his eighth fifty, an statistic that easily describes how keen he was to get it, but being the captain of the side his team had expected something different from him in that tricky situation.
Ajantha Mendis had just delivered a twin blow as he removed Mehrab Hossain and Sakib al Hasan to reduce Bangladesh to 6-90 with the last recognised batsman Mushfiqur Rahim remaining, so it was Ashraful’s duty to take the responsibility on his shoulders and bail the team out of danger.
His failure was not an issue to anyone, but the way he failed without showing any respect to the leading wicket-taker of the game that raised a question on whether the skipper has any grey material in his head.
Ashraful did not try to defend himself and admitted his faults saying it was one of those mistakes that made him feel guilty. ‘I can’t really explain to you how bad I am feeling now. I should not have played that shot anyway. If I was not out at that time, you never know we could get close to their score,’ he said after the day’s play.
What Ashraful could not do, his deputy Mashrafee did despite not being a specialist batsman and the pacer also believed Bangladesh could get around 300 runs if the captain and the fellow set batsman Musfiqur Rahim had not given away their wickets.
Mushfique went down the wicket against Ajantha Mendis and was out for 21, leaving Bangladesh at 136-8
‘Ashraful always wants to reach his fifty or century quickly. Maybe that is a reason for him to play that shot. He wanted to take the pressure off from himself and there was no fielder also behind him. That is why he tried the reverse sweep,’ said Mashrafee.
‘I think we could get 300 runs if they were not out at that time,’ bemoaned Mashrafee, who shared 63 runs with Shahadat Hossain in the last wicket stand to spare the ignominy of follow-on and help Bangladesh score 208 runs with his 63.
On his way to the innings, Mashrafee had to bat for 105 minutes defying Mendis and Muralitharan and unlike his team-mates he showed due respect to the Sri Lankan spin duo. He struck them for two sixes in the space of three balls in two different overs, but Bangladesh by that time ensured for Sri Lanka to bat again.
‘I found Muralitharan a very difficult bowler at first as he had dismissed me seven or eight times in my career. So my plan was to play him carefully and score runs against Mendis and I was successful,’ said Mashrafee.
What Ashraful could not understand, Mashrafee knew it despite being a tail-ender.


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