Dream comes true for Bangladeshi teenager

Charlie Austin

September 8, 2001

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For most teenagers a Test century on debut remains a distant dream, but for Mohammad Ashraful it was a dream come true.

"I had difficulty sleeping last night, as I dreamt about Lara's 375 and me scoring a century," he said afterwards.

"I told my captain about what I had dreamt in the morning and he told me I could make it come true, so I just decided to play positively."

Ashraful, who according to his passport celebrates his 17th birthday on Sunday - though his birth date had been thought to be 7th July 1984 - became the youngest ever player to score a Test century, bettering Mushtaq Mohammad's record set in 1961 when he had scored a century against India at the tender age of 17 years and 82 days.

He did not play like a teenager, however, as he slammed the Sri Lankan bowlers all round the Sinhalese Sports Club. He went on to score 114 off 212 balls hitting 16 fours.

He played Sri Lanka's spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan expertly, using his feet and driving over the top, pull-sweeping over mid-wicket, and dexterously late cutting whenever the ball was a fraction short.

"I did not feel under any pressure out in the middle, in fact I felt really comfortable," he claimed. "I have practiced against a bowler with a Muralitharan-like straighter ball back home and I had no trouble picking him."

Bangladesh still lost the game by a whooping innings a 137 runs, but Bangladeshi captain Naimur Rahman was still chirpy after an astonishing third day, in which his side his side had recovered from 81-4 to score 328, their second highest total in their five-Test history.

"It was good for the team to comeback like they did here today as it proved that we can perform," Rahman said afterwards.

"I always thought this was going to be his match, but Ashraful's innings was extraordinary - he played liked an experienced champion."

"If he can go out there and do that then we all can," he said. "His innings will give the team a lot of confidence."

"This game was a good experience as we are learning from our opponents everyday," he added.

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Charlie Austin Sri Lanka editor When Charlie Austin left for Sri Lanka after graduating from Sussex University, he was a planning a winter's cricket in the tropics and a six-month stint with an environmental NGO. His mother's worst fears were soon realised when it became clear that he had fallen in love with the island. Six months have now become eight years and Colombo has become his home. He joined Cricinfo in February 2000 and now heads operations in Sri Lanka, responsible for both sales and editorial. He is also the director of a UK-based travel company called Red Dot Tours, and is currently ghosting Muttiah Muralitharan's autobiography.
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Pakistan v Sri Lanka at Lahore - Mar 6-10, 2002
Sri Lanka won by 8 wickets
Sri Lanka v Bangladesh at Colombo (SSC) - Sep 6-8, 2001
Sri Lanka won by an innings and 137 runs
Pakistan v Bangladesh at Multan - Aug 29-31, 2001
Pakistan won by an innings and 264 runs
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