Ashraful defends decision to drop Mortaza

Mohammad Ashraful has defended his decision to drop fast bowler Mashrafe Mortaza from the side for the first ODI against South Africa and said Bangladesh had planned to go with three spinners.

"Mashrafe did not fit into our plans," Ashraful said. "He was not chosen to have balance in the team. We needed three spinners. [Syed] Rasel has been very economical these days and Shahadat [Hossain] was in good form. We just could not accommodate him [Mortaza].

Mortaza has had little success in Bangladesh's recent series, picking up only one wicket in three ODIs in New Zealand last December and taking none against South Africa in the two Tests that just concluded.

Bangladesh lost to South Africa by nine wickets after being bowled out for 178. South Africa needed only 36.5 overs to reach the target. Graeme Smith scored an unbeaten 103 while Herschelle Gibbs made 57. Smith gave credit to the bowlers for the win. "The whole thing was set up by our bowlers. We risked playing two spinners and they bowled very well and also the seamers. We were also brilliant on the field."

Tamim Iqbal was Bangladesh's top scorer with 82. Disappointed with the result, Tamim said he got out at the wrong moment. "My initial goal was to go after the bowling after 40 overs," Tamim said. "Had we scored about 150 by then, we could have added 50 to 60 more runs which would have been handy on this wicket. I could have played that ball differently and playing over the top was a mistake. We also did not have any big partnerships."

The two teams will meet in Dhaka for the second ODI on Wednesday and third and final game on Friday.