12:00 AM, March 13, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, March 13, 2008

Heat on Ashraful

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Bishwajit Roy

South Africa batsman AB de Villiers cuts the ball as Bangladesh wicketkeeper Dhiman Ghosh looks on during the second one-day international at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur yesterday. And Rokibul Hasan takes off for a single during his workmanlike 63 in the second one-dayer at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur yesterday. Photo: Anisur Rahman/Star

What both captains observed after the match was that it could have been a different story altogether if there had been a 230-plus score on board for the Proteas to chase against the Tigers yesterday.
It was quite easily evident that the South Africans were not comfortable batting in the second session on a slow, low wicket while they were chasing 173.
But in reality it seems that reaching even the 200-run mark is a big deal for the Tigers.
Eyebrows may be raised thinking about how a team was dismissed for below two hundred after a 119-run partnership in the middle but the fact is that nothing is currently impossible from Mohammad Ashraful's men who are risking the wrath of the supporters with repeated feeble batting display.
It's once again been proved that changing players is not a solution to rescue the team from the arid region.
The most important thing is that one cannot expect more from a team when it's captain is completely running out of touch.
The country's best batsman appeared, as he doesn't know what he has to do.
South African skipper Graeme Smith praised his two young batters-- AB de Villiers and JP Duminy who shared a 119-run partnership for the fourth wicket stand to take their team safely into the target, for showing responsibility in the middle under difficult conditions.
In contrast even the senior players from the Bangladesh side have hardly realised the value of the word of responsibility.
Otherwise how was it possible for Ashraful, who came to bat at number three after losing the first wicket in the very first over, to go for an ambitious shot while facing his fourth ball.
The interesting fact is that the same batsman took 15 balls to score his first run in the first game at Chittagong.
"I tried to play my natural game", was the defence of Ashraful.
Understandably the Bangla-desh skipper faced the heat in the post-match briefing where he even countered with questions that suggested how he now viewed his stance on anyone in the team being expendable, regardless of being a captain or a vice-captain.
Or how it felt to be shying away from leading the team, as his opposite number Smith was doing.
Ashraful however inexplicably pointed his finger towards young batsman Rokibul Hasan, who scored a well-composed 63 in just his second appearance, for spoiling a chance to bounce back in the series.
"We have had a very good chance to score 225-plus runs and it could have been a different story if we could manage that score. I think we failed to do that because Rokibul made a mistake in a crucial stage," he explained.
"We had a plan that Rokibul would bat till 40 overs but he went for the charge at the wrong time which shattered our hopes of reaching a reasonable total in a surface where batting in the second innings was not so easy," he added.
Ashraful admitted that it was not the South African bowling rather their poor batting which was the reason behind their initial collapse but he was not ready to accept that captaincy is a burden for him.
"I must say it was our poor batting which caused the initial damage. But I don't think captaincy is a burden for me and that it has affected my batting.
“Actually I think my batting has improved since I have got the role. What I think is that luck has hardly favoured me," he said.
At one stage, the young skipper however lost his temper and responded heatedly to a question stating whether the media men were out for his head.
The victorious skipper Smith gave full credit to his bowlers for wrapping up the home team below two hundred runs as he believed that it would have been difficult for them if they chased 230-run total.
"It was inspiring in terms of our bowling effort because it was important to restrict them (Tigers) below two hundred. It would have been hard to chase down a score of 220 to 230 runs batting second in this kind of conditions," said Smith.
Smith also said that he will give the rest of the guys a chance in the third match to be held tomorrow at the same venue although only a win would confirm that they oust Australia from the top one-day ranking.

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