Al Musabbir Sadi from Colombo
Mohammad Ashraful reserves his best for Sri Lanka and Colombo seems to be his happy hunting place. The talented cricketer, who scored 114 on his Test debut against Sri Lanka at the SSC ground two years ago, also played his career best one-day knock against the same side, this time at the R Premadasa Stadium on Friday. His 66 against all odds was nothing like what one expects from the little right-hander. Rather it was a matured innings from someone who loves to play adventurous shots. The 19-year-old's knock might have had little bearing in the lop-sided affair, but that was certainly a strong statement that Ashraful's talent and performance were finally combining on the field. The exciting batsman was quite animated while talking about his fighting innings at the lobby of Hotel Taj Samudra on Saturday.
Excerpts of his interview:
Question (Q): What would you say about yesterday's innings?
Mohammad Ashraful (MA): I have played such an innings under pressure for the first time. After being reduced to 31-4, I never though we would be able to reach 190. I had no total on my mind. But honestly, I did not take the pressure on myself. If I had a specialist batsman as company, we could have score more runs because the wicket was really good.
Q: Do you mean that the other batsmen could not take the advantage of it?
MA: I think in all four matches we played on good wickets but unfortunately we could not score big totals.
Q: How would rate Manzarul's contribution in the match?
MA: It was very important. After four wickets fell quickly, my brain was not working. I was not sure what to do after Alok was run out. It was bothering me most but Manzarul helped me recover. I was determined to play the full 50 overs. Our first 100 came in the 35th over, but I was confident of making it up in the last ten overs.
Q: You have top-scored in the last two matches, but you have also earned the tag of a naughty runner. Is it bothering you?
MA: In the first match, I did not back up properly. In the next, I was a bit slow while chasing a second run. But I'm really sad about Alok's run out. I need to work on my running between the wickets.
Q: There is a definite change in your batting. You are not more selective in your shots. What's the reason for it?
MA: I used to chase short balls, pull early and got carried away and people liked watching those things. But it did not me. So, before the tournament, I set a target of staying at the wicket for the first 15 overs. I scored 12 against Pakistan but batted for 11 overs. I still try to hold one end. My goal is to charge later in the innings but yesterday, I was dismissed the moment I decided to go for some big shots.
Q: You have opened in 17 innings out of 34. Do you feel comfortable in that position?
MA: Most of the times I have opened or batted at number three in one-dayers. I have batted in the middle for only three or four games. So, opening the innings is no big deal.
Q: Which shot delighted you most?
MA: I paddle-swept Maharoof to bring up my fifty and the next ball, I drove him through the covers. I also enjoyed the over boundary against him.
Q: You have dropped three catches in three matches. Are you taking it easy on the field?
MA: Not at all, but I'm making no excuses as well. Yesterday, I could try to take it on first bounce if I had run slowly. But I went for that. I just missed it.
Q: You seem to enjoy taking on the Sri Lankans.
MA: When I was entering the field, Jayawardena and Sangakkara were asking me whether Bangladesh could play full 50 overs or not. This sparked my fire.
DS: What are your plans for the last game against Pakistan?
MA: I am not thinking much about cricket after the game. When I will take the bat in hand again, I will concentrate on the next three hours. If I can bat for three and half-hours, I will be a hero.
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