26 and 114 v Sri Lanka, Colombo, 2001-02
Sanath Jayasuriya has been a touch condescending in sending Bangladesh in on a near-perfect batting track in Colombo
. Jayasuriya doesn't want to waste time, and Bangladesh oblige by getting bowled out for 90, theb17-year-old Ashraful being the top-scorer. Further humiliation visited Bangladesh as Jayasuriya calls back Marvan Atapattu (201) and Mahela Jayawardene (150), and the two go down "retired out" in the scorebook.
158 not out v India, Chittagong, 2004-05
The innings is typical of Ashraful, the timing of the innings isn't; for it comes with the Test still alive and it takes Bangladesh to just short of avoiding a follow-on in Chittagong
, which could have resulted in a draw. Responding to India's 540 Bangladesh find themselves in a familiar state at 54 for 3, when Ashraful starts his special. Irfan Pathan, Zaheer Khan, Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh make no impression whatsoever, as the innings from Ashraful has the sense of the fearless, the authoritative, and the pure. He gets to his 50 off 70 balls, and if that is quick he increases the pace even more to reach his century in 125 balls: from 76 to the hundred he moves in seven balls. India don't know what to do: they set the field back, hoping for an error. In the end they have to contend with errors from the other end, as Ashraful stays not out for 158, the highest in Tests by a Bangladeshi. But with minimal support from the tail, Ashraful and Bangladesh fall eight short of avoiding the follow-on, and normal service resumes in the second innings as they fail to make India bat again.
100 v Australia, Cardiff, 2005
It is just another normal, one-sided ODI - something expected of Australia v Bangladesh - for about three-fourths of a hot day in Cardiff
. The pre-match odds are a suitable 500-1; Australia have scored 249, and Bangladesh are off to a slow start, getting to 72 for 3 in 21 overs. Nobody seems to have told a red-hot Ashraful that; he seems to be playing a different set of bowlers on a different pitch: Habibul Bashar scores only 47 in the match-turning 150-run fourth-wicket partnership. He hits 11 boundaries in a run-a-ball maiden ODI century, and by the time he leaves Bangladesh need 23 in 17 balls. Aftab Ahmed takes them over the line, and Ashraful has enacted the greatest upset in ODI history.
136 v Sri Lanka, Chittagong, 2005-06
For once this is a knock by Ashraful setting up the tune of the match, rather than playing catch-up or plain bravado when there is nothing to lose. Bangladesh have won the toss in the first Test
at the Divisional Stadium, and have got off to a stable start when Ashraful starts dominating. He is quick on the feet, creative with his scoring, and cheeky against Murali, who is playing his 100th Test and will go on to turn the game Sri Lanka's way in the second innings. Ashraful hooks his way from 97 to 101, bisecting two men, 10 yards apart, meant exactly for that shot. His 136 comes in 184 balls, including 15 boundaries and three sixes, and leaves the game nicely set-up. And before Murali gets into his act in the second innings, the match is a close-run affair.
87 v South Africa, Guyana, 2006-07
Bangladesh have never played better cricket for a sustained period of time than at the World Cup in the West Indies. Having upset India in their first match, and having made it to the Super Eights, they are looking to prove they belong there. Ashraful is the man to do just that, against South Africa in Guyana
. At 84 for 4 in 23.4 overs, they seem to have fallen prey to the parsimony of Shaun Pollock and the aggression of Andre Nel. Ashraful and Aftab, though, launch a mid-innings assault, and Ashraful, in particular, is delightful. The drag-flicks and the paddle shots over fine-leg are audacious; Ashraful has mastered them long before they have become sexy. Ashraful's 83-ball 87 takes Bangladesh to 251, which is too much for South Africa who are facing the left-arm spin trinity on a subcontinent-like pitch.