Committed to PEOPLE'S RIGHT TO KNOW
Vol. 5 Num 902 Sun. December 10, 2006  
   
Sports


Aktel Series 2006
Mission accomplished


After Bangladesh's four wins in a row, it seemed that only a miracle could save Zimbabwe from a whitewash yesterday. Finally, the struggling Zimbabweans failed to pull off any surprise though they came up with some resistance before going down to a three-wicket defeat in the fifth and final one-dayer of the five-match series.

And as expected Habibul Bashar's men completed the series whitewash at the Mirpur Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur to ensure some consolation for their recent 3-2 series defeat in Zimbabwe.

But what was the exception was the way the home side celebrated the 5-0 success against their southern African rivals as it seemed that the outcome was not anything surprising for the Tigers while taking into consideration their recent strength.

"We had a wild celebration when we recorded our first one-day series victory against them almost two years back at home but everything has changed after that as we are now getting used to winning matches. I don't think it was anything unexpected," said a delighted Bashar, who celebrated his 50th one-day match as captain in style.

Bashar played an important unbeaten 60-ball 32 in his special game as Bangladesh raced to 194 for seven in 49 overs in reply to Zimbabwe's 193 for 8 in their stipulated 50 overs.

"People will ask how much difference there is between Zimbabwe and us. Our main target is to play good cricket as per our ability to display the difference against the bottom team and I am happy that we were quite successful in the series to give this impression," he added.

Zimbabwe captain Prosper Utseya admitted the home side's supremacy in the series but he said that he was finally happy with the way his team played in the final game.

"I think Bangladesh played good cricket in the series but I am finally happy that our boys at least showed character in the last game. We put a decent total on the board on a difficult pitch and our bowlers responded brilliantly though Bangladesh finally snatched the victory," said the promising off-spinner.

"Our young side is now just moulding at this level and I am hopeful that we can overcome this bad time soon," he promised.

The 33-year-old Bangladesh skipper however said that he would only be happy if they could beat their southern African rivals in their own den as their 3-2 away defeat still haunts him.

"We would like to disprove their proud record of being superior on home soil. I will be really happy when we can achieve it. I still believe that the 3-2 series defeat was an accident. We also proved our worth against the big team to give the cricket world an impression that our team is in the process of gelling," promised Bashar.

The most successful Bangladesh captain said that the thought that they could lose a match in the series had never crossed his mind.

"We were very confident about making it 5-0 although we had a very cautious approach. Many might have thought that the last game was most difficult in the series but I must say the third game at Bogra was more difficult for us," informed Bashar.

"After another bright opening start we experienced a sudden batting collapse, especially two unnecessary run outs put us in trouble but we always had the control in the match," he said adding that they promoted Mohammad Ashraful (4) at number four to create an opportunity for the ace batsman.

The significant fact was that long-standing wicketkeeper Khaled Mashud, who had an involvement in Bangladesh's every achievement, only acted as 12th man in the match. Skipper Bashar was however delighted by his replacement.

"I must say Mushfiqur (Rahim) was excellent in keeping and batting. It would be nice if he can continue it in future because we desperately need a backup stumper in the side," he pointed out.

There was a debate whether it was fair to adjudge a batsman for the man of the series award when bowlers, especially the Bangladesh left-arm spinners, dominated the proceeding all through the series but the man in form Shahriar Nafees was not ready to agree that the bowlers only dominated the series.

"I think the team work helped us to sweep the series. Undoubtedly our bowlers did excellent job but the batsmen also made contribution to clinch the series easily," said the southpaw opener, who scored 274 runs in five games with one hundred and a half century.

The Bangladesh vice-captain showed a rare consistency with the bat in the series but he said that he was not at all happy with his last two innings.

"I got off to good start in the last two games but failed to carry on which was not good. In Bogra a brilliant catch however played the role behind my dismissal. It was not easy today to bat in this wicket," explained Nafees.

He assured everybody that the recent success will not go to his head as he was very much aware of his job.

"I am aware of the fact that nobody will notice me if I failed to score runs. I'm very much conscious about a batsman's job at the highest level of the game," he said.After Bangladesh's four wins in a row, it seemed that only a miracle could save Zimbabwe from a whitewash yesterday. Finally, the struggling Zimbabweans failed to pull off any surprise though they came up with some resistance before going down to a three-wicket defeat in the fifth and final one-dayer of the five-match series.

And as expected Habibul Bashar's men completed the series whitewash at the Mirpur Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur to ensure some consolation for their recent 3-2 series defeat in Zimbabwe.

But what was the exception was the way the home side celebrated the 5-0 success against their southern African rivals as it seemed that the outcome was not anything surprising for the Tigers while taking into consideration their recent strength.

"We had a wild celebration when we recorded our first one-day series victory against them almost two years back at home but everything has changed after that as we are now getting used to winning matches. I don't think it was anything unexpected," said a delighted Bashar, who celebrated his 50th one-day match as captain in style.

Bashar played an important unbeaten 60-ball 32 in his special game as Bangladesh raced to 194 for seven in 49 overs in reply to Zimbabwe's 193 for 8 in their stipulated 50 overs.

"People will ask how much difference there is between Zimbabwe and us. Our main target is to play good cricket as per our ability to display the difference against the bottom team and I am happy that we were quite successful in the series to give this impression," he added.

Zimbabwe captain Prosper Utseya admitted the home side's supremacy in the series but he said that he was finally happy with the way his team played in the final game.

"I think Bangladesh played good cricket in the series but I am finally happy that our boys at least showed character in the last game. We put a decent total on the board on a difficult pitch and our bowlers responded brilliantly though Bangladesh finally snatched the victory," said the promising off-spinner.

"Our young side is now just moulding at this level and I am hopeful that we can overcome this bad time soon," he promised.

The 33-year-old Bangladesh skipper however said that he would only be happy if they could beat their southern African rivals in their own den as their 3-2 away defeat still haunts him.

"We would like to disprove their proud record of being superior on home soil. I will be really happy when we can achieve it. I still believe that the 3-2 series defeat was an accident. We also proved our worth against the big team to give the cricket world an impression that our team is in the process of gelling," promised Bashar.

The most successful Bangladesh captain said that the thought that they could lose a match in the series had never crossed his mind.

"We were very confident about making it 5-0 although we had a very cautious approach. Many might have thought that the last game was most difficult in the series but I must say the third game at Bogra was more difficult for us," informed Bashar.

"After another bright opening start we experienced a sudden batting collapse, especially two unnecessary run outs put us in trouble but we always had the control in the match," he said adding that they promoted Mohammad Ashraful (4) at number four to create an opportunity for the ace batsman.

The significant fact was that long-standing wicketkeeper Khaled Mashud, who had an involvement in Bangladesh's every achievement, only acted as 12th man in the match. Skipper Bashar was however delighted by his replacement.

"I must say Mushfiqur (Rahim) was excellent in keeping and batting. It would be nice if he can continue it in future because we desperately need a backup stumper in the side," he pointed out.

There was a debate whether it was fair to adjudge a batsman for the man of the series award when bowlers, especially the Bangladesh left-arm spinners, dominated the proceeding all through the series but the man in form Shahriar Nafees was not ready to agree that the bowlers only dominated the series.

"I think the team work helped us to sweep the series. Undoubtedly our bowlers did excellent job but the batsmen also made contribution to clinch the series easily," said the southpaw opener, who scored 274 runs in five games with one hundred and a half century.

The Bangladesh vice-captain showed a rare consistency with the bat in the series but he said that he was not at all happy with his last two innings.

"I got off to good start in the last two games but failed to carry on which was not good. In Bogra a brilliant catch however played the role behind my dismissal. It was not easy today to bat in this wicket," explained Nafees.

He assured everybody that the recent success will not go to his head as he was very much aware of his job.

"I am aware of the fact that nobody will notice me if I failed to score runs. I'm very much conscious about a batsman's job at the highest level of the game," he said.

Picture
5-0: Bangladesh team celebrates their 5-0 whitewash of Zimbabwe after their win in the final one-day international at the Mirpur Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium yesterday (Top). Tigers opener Shahriar Nafees (R) is all smiles as he receives his cheque for the man of the series from the managing director Ahmad bin Ismail (C) and chairman Salahuddin Kasem Khan (L) of AKTEL at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur on Saturday (Bottom). PHOTO: STAR