Mohammad Ashraful shone with both ball and bat to lead his Bangladesh A side to a six-wicket victory against South Africa A on Tuesday night at Buffalo Park in East London, in the first of five unofficial ODIs.
Only ten days ago South Africa had been battering Bangladesh in a four-day match, and in their home conditions were firm favourites to dominate the 50-over matches as well. However, the experienced Ashraful, who has alone played more one-day internationals than the entire South Africa A side combined, took 3 for 27 with his part-time spin to restrict South Africa to 226, and then scored an unbeaten century to help his side chase the target in 43.3 overs.
The target started looking steep for Bangladesh when they found themselves 40 for 3 in the 12th over. Ashraful, coming in at No 5, was watchful early on, taking 28 balls before striking his first boundary. He had reached 21 off 44 before he suddenly exploded with Bangladesh at 84 for 3 in the 23rd over. Ashraful hit the next six balls he faced for boundaries, and Bangladesh seized control of the chase. Ashraful continued to attack in bursts, with Junaed Siddiqui rotating the strike at the other end.
The two put together 149 before Siddiqui fell for 60, but by then the game was Bangladesh’s to lose. Ashraful reached his century soon after Siddiqui’s dismissal, and then ended the game with two consecutive boundaries in the 44th over, finishing 118 not out off 99 balls. It was a significant performance from a man who was once considered the future of Bangladesh cricket, but has now found himself relegated to the A team.
Earlier, Ashraful put South Africa A in to bat and after his frontline bowlers couldn’t get an early wicket, it fell to him to come on in the 10th over and dismiss his opposing captain Jacques Rudolph. Ashraful struck twice more in a seven-over spell, leaving South Africa reeling at 52 for 3. Things got worse for the hosts as Farhaan Behardien was bowled by left-arm spinner Elias Sunny, Vaughn van Jaarsveld was run out, and Heino Kuhn was caught trying to drive 19-year-old off-spinner Nasir Hossain. At 73 for 6, South Africa looked like they would struggle to get 150.
There was a recovery though; Dean Elgar, fresh from his 169 not out in the rain-affected second four-day game between the two sides, put together a 121-run partnership with allrounder Vernon Philander. The two batted until the 49th over, when Elgar fell for 76. Philander then hit three consecutive sixes off Farhad Reza in the same over, and South Africa took another 11 runs off the 50th to finish with a fighting total of 226 for 8. Philander finished 79 not out.
Courtesy of The Daily Star