Bangladesh have suffered yet another setback to their campaign against India with Mohammad Ashraful, the vice-captain, hospitalised with fever. Ashraful remained in Dhaka as the two teams headed to Chittagong for the third one-dayer on May 15.

"His temperature has come down but he is still in the hospital, so there is no chance to see him in the third one-day match," Faruque Ahmed, the chief selector, confirmed to the Dhaka-based The Daily Star. "But we are hopeful that he will join the team in Chittagong well before the start of the first Test match."

Ahmed said that the selectors were ready to give a replacement for Ashraful but the team management felt that the existing squad was good enough to pick a replacement.

Habibul Bashar, the Bangladesh captain, explained why the management didn't ask for a replacement. "There is a very slim chance for Ashraful to play the match but we wanted to monitor his condition till tomorrow and that was the reason we didn't ask for any replacement for him," he said. "If Ashraful feels good than definitely he will play the match because he is an important player in the team."

But if Ashraful doesn't make the game then Farhad Reza, a middle-order batsman, who made his debut against Zimbabwe at Harare in July 2006 will get his first chance against quality opposition.

Things have not gone Bangladesh's way in the ODI series, which they trail 2-0 after successive defeats at Mirpur. Masharfe Mortaza missed the first match because of a strained back and now Ashraful could well miss out on the third.

"We are desperately looking forward to this game despite the fact that we lost the series," Bashar said. "It would be fantastic if we can manage a win before a tough Test series." He added that Bangladesh had performed better in the first two matches than they had in their previous series at home. "We were very much close in the first game and in the second match it was also not a one-sided affair."

Asked whether the team members felt a tinge of sadness as this would be Dav Whatmore's last ODI as Bangladesh coach, Bashar replied "Naturally, players are feeling bad for him." Queried about his own plans to step down, Bashar said, "Let the Test series be over. Then I will let you know about this. But frankly speaking, I am feeling a bit puzzled."

On Indian cricket manager Ravi Shastri's comments that his side would not show any mercy to Bangladesh, Bashar said "I am not going to comment on this. Maybe, he has said this to pep up his boys, or to create pressure on us."