Explosive Ashraful takes Bangladesh to victory
30.1 overs Bangladesh 170 for 4 (Ashraful 67*) beat Kenya 168 (Tikolo 47, Razzak 3-31, Mortaza 3-25) by 6 wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
An incisive spell from Mashrafe Mortaza, miserly acts from the spinners and Mohammad Ashraful's quick-fire half-century overwhelmed Kenya in the first one-day international at Nairobi. After restricting Kenya to 168, Bangladesh had little trouble in cantering to a six-wicket victory to go up 1-0 in the three-match series. Kenya, Steve Tikolo aside, were insipid in all departments. Their batting was inept and having set such a small target, their bowlers failed to prevent Bangladesh's batsmen from finding the fence with ease.
Ashraful, in particular, took advantage of the generous width on offer. His innings began when Bangladesh were at a precarious 58 for 3 and he swung the momentum their way with a flurry of boundaries. He carted two fours through the offside off the third and fourth balls he faced and never looked back. Fearlessly chancing his arm, Ashraful was unafraid to carve the ball in the air past point or cover. He peppered the offside boundary and was particularly harsh on Nehemiah Odhiambo whom he smacked for three fours in an over. He reached his fifty - off just 36 balls - with a slog-swept six off Hiren Varaiya, who conceded 33 off five overs. While Ashraful sparkled at one end, Farhad Reza was hardly overshadowed at the other. He contributed 34 to the 73-run stand for the fifth wicket that sealed Bangladesh's victory.
Coach Dav Whatmore's only grouse would be the form of Bangladesh's top four batsmen. Apart from Shahriar Nafees who managed just 7, the others made bits-and-pieces contributions and got out after getting their eye in. Aftab Ahmed's habit of sprinting out of the blocks and then running out of steam is becoming terribly predictable and today he sparkled with three boundaries in the space of eight balls before edging to point. Rajin Saleh played the role of anchor and took 54 balls to score 19 before edging Odhiambo to the wicketkeeper. Saqibul Hasan, too, also got settled before he was needlessly run out on 20.
The poor start that Bangladesh got off to didn't cost them in the end because their bowlers had done superbly to dismiss Kenya for a low total inside 50 overs. Tikolo provided the only resistance during a typically belligerent 47 but his effort was a flicker in what was a dreary batting performance.
After Khaled Mashud chose to field, Mortaza, who had been left out of the final ODI against Zimbabwe, dismissed Maurice Ouma for duck in the first over. Ouma had been brought into the side to provide momentum at the top of the order but he was comprehensively beaten by three consecutive deliveries before he nicked the fourth. In his second over, Mortaza added more fuel to the debate over Kennedy Otieno's poor form by trapping him leg before for 1 to leave Kenya reeling at 4 for 2.
Then began the only period when Kenya showed some intent and though the partnership for the third wicket reads 56, it was solely Tikolo's show. He set off at a canter, cutting and driving powerfully in the arc between cover and point. Tikolo smashed ten fours in his innings of 47. Had he received any sort of support from Jimmy Kamande, Kenya could have been on their way to revival. Instead Kamande was the tortoise of the partnership and contributed a mere 5 runs from 40 balls. With nothing happening at the other end, the responsibility for runs fell on Tikolo and he became the first of Razzak's three wickets soon after the first drinks break when he missed a sweep and was bowled. Mortaza returned for his second spell and quickly ended Kamande's turgid innings.
Thereafter the spinners - Mohammad Rafique and Razzak - kept pegging away and after Collins Obuya and Hitesh Modi fell off successive deliveries to Hasan, there was no way back for Kenya. Tanmay Mishra's brief hitting during his 35 propped the total past 150 but it was too little and far too late.