Sri Lanka v Bangladesh, 1st Test, Galle, 3rd Day March 10, 2013

Ashraful shelves risk for discipline

21

Mohammad Ashraful's straight-faced humour often slips by unnoticed. When asked whether shelving the late cut gave him more discipline in his record-breaking innings, he pointed out the exact delivery when he brought out that shot. There were some laughs, but that was because Ashraful continued in the same tone, with just the hint of a smile.

"There's a shot that always gets me out," Ashraful said. "I don't want to play it, but I tried it off the 167th ball I faced. It just happened. I was lucky the ball didn't touch the bat."

He was correct. Ashraful is one of few players who can recall his innings in great detail, in relation to a specific shot, or a particular bowler who sledged him. He had indeed tried to late cut his 167th delivery.

Ashraful had lost the Bangladesh captaincy after playing such a shot in the loss to Ireland during the 2009 World Twenty20 Cup, drawing the anger of millions back home. Had it taken the edge here in Galle, Ashraful would have fallen for 97, and the reaction would have been predictable.

His love-hate relationship with the public has gnawed at Ashraful, who was once the only bearer of hope in the line-up. He elucidated what people had thought of him at the start of this series.

"Before the Test match, I thought people would say, 'Look he already made a hundred in the practice match, there's no way he will make one more in the Test,'" Ashraful said. "So all [of] those things played in my head after I had reached the century.

"I think I celebrated that much more because this was my second consecutive hundred. The negative reactions towards every shot I play, however I get out, has been a problem for me [in the past]. If I fail, even when others perform, the question is usually posed in regards to my place in the team."

Ashraful was thoughtful while narrating how he had felt after spending a decade without fulfilling his potential. His selection for this series wasn't straightforward either. "I am just thankful they [BCB] selected me. They could have left me out again. Now I am just 11 runs away from becoming the first Bangladeshi to score a double-century.

"I used to give performances here and there in the first eleven years of my career. But now I feel I have to perform regularly to stay in the team. I have scored two hundreds in a row, so I will try to continue doing this [going forward]."

Athar Ali Khan, a former Bangladesh player and a commentator in this match, said it was the batsman's "destiny" to have played such an innings. "He was simply magnificent. His approach and determination was worth watching," Athar Ali said. "This was in his destiny: to not be selected among the 25-man preliminary side, and then Shahriar Nafees having a freak injury, and now these two centuries."

Soon after the century was completed before tea, former Bangladesh captain Habibul Bashar said the biggest difference between Ashraful's previous five hundreds and the one in Galle was his self-control. "He didn't invent any shots, that's why this was a better innings than the previous ones," Bashar said.

Bashar might have been hinting at the late-cut, and he spoke with a sense of relief. "I have seen all his previous hundreds, but none of them were near as good as this one. If he had played like this throughout his career, he would have had more than the six centuries."

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • munafmirza on March 10, 2013, 21:09 GMT

    Nice to see Ashraful score some runs.. Bangladesh is slowly putting a good team on the park. One more important cog in the wheel would be fast bowling. If they could get Mashrafe fit and firing and a couple of decent fast medium bowlers and when Shakib comes back fit.. They could have a decent enough team with five bowlers to take 20 wickets.
    Bangladesh keeps on improving. That is good.

  • on March 10, 2013, 17:32 GMT

    I never saw a Bangladeshi batsman with such hand-eye co-ordination... he has so much time to play every ball.... he can play shots that other batsmen can only dream of.... it was never his talent, which was in question... its great to see that at last he has done justice to his talent (for one innings at least!)... its interesting to see that he is aware of exactly what is expected of him... now we can only hope for a second innings (in his batting career, that is) for him... it happened to many legendary players... can it happen to Ashraful as well?

  • sachin_vvsfan on March 11, 2013, 9:24 GMT

    This is definitely a day to celebrate for many BD fans. The opposition bowling unit is still world class. Ashraful i watched him scoring a ton against india in 2005 i thought he would become sachin of BD but he has been very inconsistent since then. He has a god gifted timing and I wish his great form continues through out the series.

  • Jawwad123 on March 11, 2013, 7:43 GMT

    Does any1 know that Ashraful had said he would score a double hundred in this match ten days before it???....n he got so close to fulfilling it! well if u dont knw check the daily star newspaper if u live in BD

  • durhamd on March 11, 2013, 2:06 GMT

    I don't know exactly why, but I always wish Ashraful to do well for Bangladesh. I didn't get the honour to have seen any of his previous 'great' innings, but for him to become the first Bangladeshi to hit a Test 200 would hopefully affirm his talent, and be the catalyst for a much more successful future for Bng.

    Always want the underdog to do well. (Unless it's against England of course).

  • Meety on March 11, 2013, 0:35 GMT

    He needs to keep on producing as he has been given more opportunities than he really deserved. That said, I wish him well. He & Rahim need to push on as Bangladesh still trail by over a 100 runs. This is (so far), probably Bangladesh's best day in Test cricket.

  • on March 10, 2013, 20:23 GMT

    Hopefully; with this innings we are going to see a new Ashraful in making.

  • on March 10, 2013, 20:15 GMT

    really happy for the man! and great article by Mohammad Isam!

  • HatersAreOrdinary on March 10, 2013, 20:12 GMT

    i remember when i rad the news on paper about tamim being on a arguement n abused ash in a dhaka premier league game i reacted so quickly n i complained n protested on tamim's fb page. i just felt how much i love this little man bt when he plays bad i am the 1st to criticize him. Ash is our 1st love nobody can take that spot not even shakib. Ash everyone loves you so much n they know whats your potential is thats why our expectation is so high from you. we love you so much. you are still our hero :)

  • Shajadul on March 10, 2013, 18:23 GMT

    I hope he gets the first double century for his country. He well deserve it. Good luck....

  • munafmirza on March 10, 2013, 21:09 GMT

    Nice to see Ashraful score some runs.. Bangladesh is slowly putting a good team on the park. One more important cog in the wheel would be fast bowling. If they could get Mashrafe fit and firing and a couple of decent fast medium bowlers and when Shakib comes back fit.. They could have a decent enough team with five bowlers to take 20 wickets.
    Bangladesh keeps on improving. That is good.

  • on March 10, 2013, 17:32 GMT

    I never saw a Bangladeshi batsman with such hand-eye co-ordination... he has so much time to play every ball.... he can play shots that other batsmen can only dream of.... it was never his talent, which was in question... its great to see that at last he has done justice to his talent (for one innings at least!)... its interesting to see that he is aware of exactly what is expected of him... now we can only hope for a second innings (in his batting career, that is) for him... it happened to many legendary players... can it happen to Ashraful as well?

  • sachin_vvsfan on March 11, 2013, 9:24 GMT

    This is definitely a day to celebrate for many BD fans. The opposition bowling unit is still world class. Ashraful i watched him scoring a ton against india in 2005 i thought he would become sachin of BD but he has been very inconsistent since then. He has a god gifted timing and I wish his great form continues through out the series.

  • Jawwad123 on March 11, 2013, 7:43 GMT

    Does any1 know that Ashraful had said he would score a double hundred in this match ten days before it???....n he got so close to fulfilling it! well if u dont knw check the daily star newspaper if u live in BD

  • durhamd on March 11, 2013, 2:06 GMT

    I don't know exactly why, but I always wish Ashraful to do well for Bangladesh. I didn't get the honour to have seen any of his previous 'great' innings, but for him to become the first Bangladeshi to hit a Test 200 would hopefully affirm his talent, and be the catalyst for a much more successful future for Bng.

    Always want the underdog to do well. (Unless it's against England of course).

  • Meety on March 11, 2013, 0:35 GMT

    He needs to keep on producing as he has been given more opportunities than he really deserved. That said, I wish him well. He & Rahim need to push on as Bangladesh still trail by over a 100 runs. This is (so far), probably Bangladesh's best day in Test cricket.

  • on March 10, 2013, 20:23 GMT

    Hopefully; with this innings we are going to see a new Ashraful in making.

  • on March 10, 2013, 20:15 GMT

    really happy for the man! and great article by Mohammad Isam!

  • HatersAreOrdinary on March 10, 2013, 20:12 GMT

    i remember when i rad the news on paper about tamim being on a arguement n abused ash in a dhaka premier league game i reacted so quickly n i complained n protested on tamim's fb page. i just felt how much i love this little man bt when he plays bad i am the 1st to criticize him. Ash is our 1st love nobody can take that spot not even shakib. Ash everyone loves you so much n they know whats your potential is thats why our expectation is so high from you. we love you so much. you are still our hero :)

  • Shajadul on March 10, 2013, 18:23 GMT

    I hope he gets the first double century for his country. He well deserve it. Good luck....

  • stormy16 on March 10, 2013, 18:14 GMT

    From the time I first saw Ashraful when ever I look at the Banglasdesh scorecard I am looking to see how he did and have been dissappointed time and again. I saw most of his innings today and he looked a different man and in short he looked supreme. I reckon he has finally matured and expect more from this guy.

  • on March 10, 2013, 17:47 GMT

    Easy pitch to bat on. Anyone could have done it. But Hes the one who did. Well done Ashraful.

  • on March 10, 2013, 17:43 GMT

    One of my Favorite cricketers of all time,has given me one more reason to enjoy this funny game !!!!

  • tisra on March 10, 2013, 17:25 GMT

    I remember Sachin to score a double hundred against Aus without playing a single cover drive, that was a comeback innings of his standard. Sometimes even the Greats check their favorite shots that they consider risky before they make sure that they are back on track. What Ashraful did was right and that shows. I wish him all the luck for his version 2.0

  • BanglaChild on March 10, 2013, 17:01 GMT

    The first love is the last love they say. Today Tigers have Shakib- Tamim and many others, but ASH, as he is fondly called, will always remain the FIRST LOVE of Bangladesh Cricket.

    Athar Ali Khan rightly pin pointed. It was in ASH's 'destiny' to play today's innings. Adding to Athar Ali Khan, it is now in ASH and MUSHIE's 'destiny' to both cross 200 and in the 'destiny' of the Tigers to bat two sessions tomorrow. Galle is a favourite hunting for the Lankans. Lankans can always bounce back.

    For tonight, let Bangladesh sleep with the thought 'YES, we too can'! Let fate be written in the stars. Go TIGERS Go!

  • on March 10, 2013, 16:52 GMT

    I have never seen such a wonderful batting by Ashraful before & Mushfiq shows as a captain how to support his team's best batsman... hat's off :)

  • on March 10, 2013, 16:04 GMT

    Also, he didn't play another shot which had gotten him out on numerous occasions. The pull! I hope this is his rebirth...if he has indeed learnt from the past and corrected himself, there would be no looking back for Bangladesh. But as Ashraful had rightly said, he himself is his biggest problem.

  • TheRisingTeam on March 10, 2013, 15:49 GMT

    Ashraful needs to understand that most Bangladeshi's are just frustrated with his batting especially with that much talent, we respect him as a person we know and everyone else outside Bangladesh that he is such a wonderful guy and welcomes and befriends everyone. The past is the past, you learn from it and move on from it and focus on the present and plan for the future. Don't expect guys from now on Ashraful to perform like this everytime as that's certainly not possible BUT on a more 'consistent' bases so instead of averaging under 17 or something in the last 4 years like he use to, now he should average around 35. His career stats read that he has 8 50s in Tests and that's because he gets out cheaply around scores of 10 but we don't want to see that from him anymore. The World of Cricket fans and experts alike love to see the the real Ashraful play to his best just like today. Now go and get the 200, you earned it well done wish him well.

  • Vivekaks on March 10, 2013, 15:45 GMT

    Mohd Ashrafful reminds of the Turkish Pocket Hercules. He has amazing power for a short man, and his shots pack a punch. His only worry has been his temperament. Todays innings though important for his career, would only ensure he curbs his natural instinct. He should curb his big shot making that he does in the limited format, but doesnt mean he has to play slow...its painful to watch a batsman of his caliber labouring to a strike rate of less than 50. And, Rahim, who is probably inferior in technique scoring at 60. Purist may say this is how one should bat in Test matches et all. Whats the use of a performance that doesnt bring u a result. I would jus wish, that Ashrafful curb some of his shots and still continue to accumulate runs. Playing slow will not take him anywhere. This was a dour pitch. He has to focus on getting runs and do well in pitches outside sub continent. Nevertheless I am happy to see him get some runs.

  • ash_haq on March 10, 2013, 15:44 GMT

    He looked a complete different batsman today. Absent was his fast scoring rate, innovative shots and flashes of unbelievable raw talent. Present was organization, determination and maturity. Congrts Ashraful!

  • on March 10, 2013, 15:36 GMT

    Every body blames him because of their expectations...I love him because what he has given all those years....my first big love...and I dont want any logic for that....

  • on March 10, 2013, 15:36 GMT

    Every body blames him because of their expectations...I love him because what he has given all those years....my first big love...and I dont want any logic for that....

  • ash_haq on March 10, 2013, 15:44 GMT

    He looked a complete different batsman today. Absent was his fast scoring rate, innovative shots and flashes of unbelievable raw talent. Present was organization, determination and maturity. Congrts Ashraful!

  • Vivekaks on March 10, 2013, 15:45 GMT

    Mohd Ashrafful reminds of the Turkish Pocket Hercules. He has amazing power for a short man, and his shots pack a punch. His only worry has been his temperament. Todays innings though important for his career, would only ensure he curbs his natural instinct. He should curb his big shot making that he does in the limited format, but doesnt mean he has to play slow...its painful to watch a batsman of his caliber labouring to a strike rate of less than 50. And, Rahim, who is probably inferior in technique scoring at 60. Purist may say this is how one should bat in Test matches et all. Whats the use of a performance that doesnt bring u a result. I would jus wish, that Ashrafful curb some of his shots and still continue to accumulate runs. Playing slow will not take him anywhere. This was a dour pitch. He has to focus on getting runs and do well in pitches outside sub continent. Nevertheless I am happy to see him get some runs.

  • TheRisingTeam on March 10, 2013, 15:49 GMT

    Ashraful needs to understand that most Bangladeshi's are just frustrated with his batting especially with that much talent, we respect him as a person we know and everyone else outside Bangladesh that he is such a wonderful guy and welcomes and befriends everyone. The past is the past, you learn from it and move on from it and focus on the present and plan for the future. Don't expect guys from now on Ashraful to perform like this everytime as that's certainly not possible BUT on a more 'consistent' bases so instead of averaging under 17 or something in the last 4 years like he use to, now he should average around 35. His career stats read that he has 8 50s in Tests and that's because he gets out cheaply around scores of 10 but we don't want to see that from him anymore. The World of Cricket fans and experts alike love to see the the real Ashraful play to his best just like today. Now go and get the 200, you earned it well done wish him well.

  • on March 10, 2013, 16:04 GMT

    Also, he didn't play another shot which had gotten him out on numerous occasions. The pull! I hope this is his rebirth...if he has indeed learnt from the past and corrected himself, there would be no looking back for Bangladesh. But as Ashraful had rightly said, he himself is his biggest problem.

  • on March 10, 2013, 16:52 GMT

    I have never seen such a wonderful batting by Ashraful before & Mushfiq shows as a captain how to support his team's best batsman... hat's off :)

  • BanglaChild on March 10, 2013, 17:01 GMT

    The first love is the last love they say. Today Tigers have Shakib- Tamim and many others, but ASH, as he is fondly called, will always remain the FIRST LOVE of Bangladesh Cricket.

    Athar Ali Khan rightly pin pointed. It was in ASH's 'destiny' to play today's innings. Adding to Athar Ali Khan, it is now in ASH and MUSHIE's 'destiny' to both cross 200 and in the 'destiny' of the Tigers to bat two sessions tomorrow. Galle is a favourite hunting for the Lankans. Lankans can always bounce back.

    For tonight, let Bangladesh sleep with the thought 'YES, we too can'! Let fate be written in the stars. Go TIGERS Go!

  • tisra on March 10, 2013, 17:25 GMT

    I remember Sachin to score a double hundred against Aus without playing a single cover drive, that was a comeback innings of his standard. Sometimes even the Greats check their favorite shots that they consider risky before they make sure that they are back on track. What Ashraful did was right and that shows. I wish him all the luck for his version 2.0

  • on March 10, 2013, 17:43 GMT

    One of my Favorite cricketers of all time,has given me one more reason to enjoy this funny game !!!!

  • on March 10, 2013, 17:47 GMT

    Easy pitch to bat on. Anyone could have done it. But Hes the one who did. Well done Ashraful.