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September 19, 2001
The youngest Test nation has bagged the name of the youngest Test centurion in the game's 124-year old history. This is a marvelous performance from a kid (17 years & 63 days), who not only saved his side from further disgrace but also rallied their spirits. Ashraful, the diminutive right-hander has shown the hope - a hope that was only flickering while the recognized super powers of cricket were crushing us in Multan and Colombo.
The name of Wahidul Ghani is spreading far and wide after Ashraful hit the headlines. Wahidul Ghani, an ex-cricketer and the mentor of this whiz kid, runs a cricket-coaching center called "Ankur" and Mohammed Ashraful is a fruit of this less known academy.
When Ashraful was selected for Wahidul Ghani's camp, he was only eleven years old. Before that he used to play with his mates in the neighborhood. Ghani, an utterly dedicated soul to cricket spotted the genius in Ashraful who only needed congenial atmosphere and support to sprout. He knew that the kid was a prodigy and he needed to be groomed properly. That was the job Ghani did with success.
He infused confidence and necessary props to this youth when he needed these most. In January 2000, Ashraful played the Under-19 World Cup in Sri Lanka where he had to endure the contemptuous notions over his frail and childish physic. In home, the local coaches shared out the same view, which to some extent frustrated the boy. It was the time when Wahidul Ghani stood beside him to usher him to the right direction.
This former national cricketer trains kid cricketers by his own volition and without fees, which is an exceptional and outstanding approach in a country like Bangladesh. He carries out coaching sessions thrice a week in the Indoor of Abahani Club and gives added attention to prodigious kids. Being a very humble fellow, Wahidul Ghani refuses to take any credit for himself of his student Ashraful's brilliant success in Sri Lanka. Conversely he says it is only Asraful's talent that did the magic.
"Ankur" cricket academy is open for everyone but Wahidul Ghani carefully chooses his students among the crowd. He only includes those who are promising and would not give up cricket after a few months training. The right-arm fast medium Mohammed Shaif, who had his debut against Zimbabwe, sprouted from "Ankur" alike his buddy Ashraful. They are very similar in a single point of view - both were unknown even a year ago and came into the hit list abruptly.
Wahidul Ghani is optimistic about another lad named Sagar, who can deliver "dusra ball" or "drifter" that he learnt from Saqlain Mushtaq when Pakistan came in 1997 to take part in Independence Cup. According to Wahidul, Sagar plays a key role to Ashraful's achievement. Sagar used to apply the secrets of spin bowling that he learnt from Saqlain in the nets - particularly to Ashraful. He was getting familiar with handling a delivery like "dusra ball". Later it worked when he took on Muralitharan who tried to bit him by releasing those vicious "drifters" repeatedly.
Arif Hossain, a right arm leggie, is going to come into sight soon - Wahidul believes. Arif was sent to Australia to have training there and has a bright future.
Wahidul Ghani played a solitary ODI against Pakistan at Chittagong in Asia cup 1988-89. He has a good track of records as a right arm leg spinner and a handy lower order batsman.