Ashraful 'feeling good' after win
Mohammad Ashraful, the Bangladesh captain, said the team were relieved after levelling the series 1-1 in Mirpur. Facing the prospect of a series loss against a team ranked below them, Bangladesh battled hard for a six-wicket victory on Wednesday, and the captain believes they will definitely win the three-match contest if they play at their best in the decider on January 23.
"It was an important match for us and I am just feeling good," Ashraful said. "It could have been more convincing but we won the match and are now looking forward to the last game."
Ashraful was happy with the performance of the bowlers, but expressed concern over the team's inability to bowl out Zimbabwe. After 18.3 overs, the tourists were in trouble at 47 for 6, but managed to survive 50 overs and post 160 on the board, a competitive total given the low-scoring affairs that have taken place in the past week in Mirpur.
"After reducing Zimbabwe to 47 for 6, we tried hard to break the seventh-wicket [stand] between [Sean] Williams and [Prosper] Utseya, who adopted a defensive strategy," Ashraful said. "Even though they had a 96-run stand, it was a slow partnership. We did not give runs freely.
"Naeem [Islam] bowled well so did Shakib [Al Hasan] during that partnership. We could not pick wickets because they did not play any lofty shots. They just stuck to the basics and took singles or doubles."
Bangladesh's decision to have a think-tank has also helped, Ashraful said. "We do have a group of five, which sits and analyses games and performances and also plans for the future. I think it was a positive step we have taken and I am sure it will yield positive results in the future."
One decision Bangladesh got right on the day was at the toss, where they chose to field. Ashraful admitted he had erred in batting first in the series opener, which Zimbabwe won by two wickets after Bangladesh were dismissed for 124. "I think that my decision to bat first in the first match was a wrong one and we also batted badly in that match," he said. "We all looked at the wicket first and then decided that if we win the toss we would field first. The wicket was also better than Monday and I think even if we batted first on this wicket it wouldn't have been a problem. Our batters and fielders were also good today."
Ashraful managed only 5 in a chase guided by Mehrab Hossain jnr and Raqibul Hasan, taking his tally to 71 in six ODIs this year. He was caught at short cover while swinging at a wide delivery off left-arm spinner Ray Price. "Yes, it was a bad shot, but it could have been better had I hit on top or below of the ball.
"I will try to play better in the next match and put on some runs on the board. I am not thinking of the captaincy as I am getting support from all and I am trying my best."