Ashraful targets second coming
Mohammad Ashraful will see a doctor in Galle for an eye allergy that has recurred several times in the last eight years, ahead of what is now certain to be his first Test match in more than a year. The problem hasn't affected his batting so far, but Ashraful wanted it checked as a precautionary measure, rather than ride on luck as he has done during the home season.
It wasn't good fortune, however, that brought him a century in Bangladesh's tour game in Matara. Ashraful worked hard to reach his second first-class hundred this season, this one being as crucial as the one in Bogra a few months ago.
Ashraful had recently said playing in that Bangladesh Cricket League game was lucky, because he had been woefully out of form and was almost on the verge of giving himself a break from cricket. He later scored a hundred in the BPL too, which he also believed was due to luck. One would imagine that his last-minute inclusion in the Test side for Sri Lanka was also fortunate, after Shahriar Nafees suffered a freak accident at home.
There was little luck, however, during his 102 against the Sri Lanka Development Emerging Team. He steadily built an innings that looked un-Ashraful like, but was more effective than the blitzes he is famous for. His effort helped his team score 479.
"I wanted to build an innings," Ashraful said after the game had ended in a draw. "I tried to leave a lot of balls, kept my eye on making sure we have a partnership. Sometimes when the bowling is good and you are not settled, the best place to bat is at the non-striker's end. I tried to do that today, especially at the start of the innings."
Ashraful averages 22.60 in 57 Tests, but he believes a second coming is possible. He also picked a role model in a bid to bring his faltering career back on track.
"I am trying to resurrect my career like [Tillakaratne] Dilshan did since 2009. I would play in the same way, but I want to bat in the top order and take it from there. I think I am at an age when I want to have a second coming, and from the top order, I think I can target that. I haven't had a great career so far, so I want to grab this opportunity."
Dilshan had changed position as a batsman, turning himself into a destructive opener in the 2008-09 season, and has been more consistent compared to when he was an allrounder batting lower in the order.
Ashraful's humility about an unfulfilled career could make a difference in the next two weeks.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent