Vol. 5 Num 1121 Thu. July 26, 2007  

Ashraful remains positive

Everybody laughed at Tony Greig when the renowned commentator made a human error by announcing in the presentation ceremony that the one-day series was won by Bangladesh yesterday. There was a reason for the small group of spectators to poke fun at the wrong announcement after the way Bangladesh played during the entire tour against the formidable Sri Lankans. Bangladesh's miserable top-order batting, especially against a second-string attack in the third one-dayer and during the whole series, raised many questions than answers.

Bangladesh skipper Mohammad Ashraful nevertheless believed that they missed out on two good chances to win the one-day series.

"After the first match, we had another chance today (Wednesday) to win a match against Sri Lanka but unfortunately our top-order failed to deliver once again after the bowlers' brilliant effort. It was not impossible to win the one-day series if our batsmen could have performed like our bowlers," said Ashraful in the post-match briefing.

Although there was much flak towards Ashraful, the 23-year-old right-hander surprised the audience by saying that the tour was not at all disappointing for him.

"It's my first assignment as a captain and I am not too frustrated with the outcome of the series like people have said against us. We hardly made any impression in our previous tours in this country but I must say that for the first time we created opportunities in the one-day series," he observed.

He stunned everyone when he said, "There was a sign of improvement even in the Test series although we lost very badly. To me the most important thing was that we fought back in the first two Tests during our second innings and you know, it was not easy to face an attack like Sri Lanka's."

Ashraful also said that he learned many things as a captain.

"It was not an easy tour for me as a captain. We failed to perform as per our expectations mainly because of our poor batting. We have to work hard to play quality bowling," he said.

Ashraful also defended his interim coach Shaun Williams when the question was asked whether he missed a high profile coach like Dav Whatmore.

"Shaun (Williams) has done a tremendous job. What can a coach do at this level if we fail to realise our own game? I think we should take the responsibility," he added.

His opposite number Mahela Jayawardene echoed Ashraful's sentiment that Bangladesh are an improving side.

"Despite the easy wins in the series, Bangladesh is an improving side but they have had a lack of application. In this level, one should work hard to succeed," observed the successful Lankan skipper, who will go on a two-week break along with his teammates before they are off to Australia.

Jayawardene however added that he never felt that he could lose the match at any stage despite Bangladesh's upperhand in the initial stages.

"I have a lot of confidence in my young players and they proved that they are the real future. I went in late (to bat) to give the new guys a chance and I am very impressed at the way Jehan Mubarak batted," he said while explaining his sudden demotion in the batting order.

Despite the emphatic wins in both Tests and the one-day series, Mahela believed that they made a lot of mistakes during the series against Bangladesh.

"We dropped a number of catches and our top-order in the one-day series was also not satisfactory. I think there are a lot of areas for improvement," said Jayawardene adding that he will remember the series for champion off-spinner Muttiah Muralidaran's 700 wickets achievement in the Test series and Sanath Jayasuriya's 300 in the one-day series.

Jayasuriya expressed his disappointment over his batting performance in the series but was satisfied with his bowling as he returned with a series figure of nine wickets to be adjudged man-of-the-series.

"I am particularly happy because my team is now going in a good direction," said the former Sri Lanka skipper.

No doubt, Sri Lanka is in the right direction but Bangladesh have to find the answer to silence the critics after their catastrophic performance in the tour.

Bangladesh opener Tamim Iqbal runs the ball to third-man during his half-century in the third and final one-day international at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo on Wednesday. PHOTO: AFP