Mohammad Ashraful: "It is a tough challenge. People expect a lot from you and they demand success" © AFP
 
The expectations of fans back home may get "out of control" but Mohammad Ashraful, the Bangladesh captain, wants his team to be among the top five in the world. Facing flak from supporters and media for his Bangladesh's poor results and his woeful batting form, Ashraful believes the hard work will pay off for him.

"I am the biggest critic of my inconsistency, I know I have let many people down including myself for that," Ashraful told the Sydney Morning Herald. Bangladesh crashed to a 3-0 defeat in the ODI series against Australia in Darwin, with Ashraful scoring only 11 runs in three innings. His poor run even prompted coach Jamie Siddons to admit that Ashraful would have been dropped had he not been captain.

"My natural instinct is to dominate bowlers and get on top of them. I play better when I start dominating from the start," Ashraful said. "Maybe I take a few more risks because of that early on in my innings.

"I am trying to play the way I could be more successful in the long run. I am working really hard on that with Siddons who I think is an excellent batting tactician. I believe the results will come soon."

Ashraful's hundred on debut, as a 17-year old, made him the youngest Test centurion, and he was also architect of Bangladesh's famous win over Australia in Cardiff in 2005. However, he has failed to replicate that form consistently, and failed to lead a young team by example.

"It is a tough challenge. People expect a lot from you and they demand success," he said. "Public expectation from teams of the subcontinent is very different from elsewhere in the world and everyday you are under scrutiny from the media and the masses. Sometimes it threatens to go out of control but that's where you have to stay even calmer."

Ashraful, only 24, was confident about his future. "I see myself playing cricket at the highest level and performing with the bat in both forms of the game. I want to win more matches for Bangladesh and hope to see the team ranked among the top five nations in world cricket."

He averages less than 25 in both Tests and ODIs, but Ashraful was firm he was the right man to lead Bangladesh, and said he was unflustered by the extreme reactions. "The job of the Bangladesh captain is even more difficult because you are leading a side of talented youngsters who are still improving," he said. "But I have always wanted to captain the side and I enjoy the package that comes with it.

"I put myself in a fan or a journalist's shoes and realise that the reaction is only fair. When I was growing up and used to watch the Bangladesh team play we would often criticise the captain and the players for cricketing and non-cricketing things.

"My philosophy is that the public pay to watch us and it is only natural that they expect us to perform and be successful. The captain is often at the receiving end when things aren't going right but I have learnt to take it in my stride."