Bangladesh fast bowler Mashrafe bin Mortaza (L) exults as wicketkeeper Dhiman Ghosh (on the ground) grasps the catch to dismiss Ireland batsman James Porterfield during the first ODI at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium yesterday. Photo: Anisur Rahman
'Are you a relieved man now?' was the expected question asked to Bangladesh captain Mohammad Ashraful after his side's comfortable eight-wicket victory against Ireland in the first game of the three-match one-day series at the Mirpur Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium yesterday.
Another reason behind the query was that the right-hander indicated a return to form by making an unbeaten 64 runs after a run drought in the last five matches. In addition it was his first one-day international victory as a captain.
The 23-year old Tigers skipper, who has already come under serious scrutiny following his immature off the field activities, however was realistic enough to tone down their success against an ICC associate member country.
"It feels good because we haven't won any one-day match after the World Cup. I am happy as we played the match according to our plan and it's always important to win matches no matter against whom," said Ashraful in response to the initial question.
Despite the Tigers horrible performance against South Africa in the recently concluded home series, a huge crowd turned in to watch the low-profile encounter under immense heat -- which the visitors also felt was a major reason behind their poor showing in the match -- and this occasion their beloved team didn't frustrate them.
Undoubtedly they maintained their recent past supremacy over the ICC associates and avenged their World Cup defeat to Ireland in West Indies by winning the game but one shouldn't really get carried away.
"It is natural that people come down hard on us if we didn't play good cricket. But you should also consider the success as a win is always a win," said Ashraful.
The ace batsman said that he stuck to their team rule that's why he returned amongst the runs after a disappointing performance against South Africa in the Test and one-day series.
"I followed the team rules which suggested not to play in the air. I think we didn't do that against South Africa that's why we failed to put on a reasonable score. But if we can continue to bat in this manner then definitely you will see a progress in our batting under the guidance of our new coach," he observed.
"I think partnership is important in any form of the game and Nafees and I could do it today," he added.
Without any doubt it was encouraging to see the way the Bangladesh captain batted in the match as he not only took 13 balls to score his first runs but also avoided risky shots, a facet that was completely missing against the formidable South Africa.
Coach Jamie Siddons also expressed his satisfaction over the manner his skipper played the innings and was involved in an unbeaten 130-run third wicket partnership with Shahriar Nafees, who hit an undefeated 90.
"It's really nice to see that Ash (Mohammad Ashraful) struck to the team rule today. I am especially happy that a win entertained the crowds," said the Australian, who also tasted his first victory with the Tigers since he has taken the job five months back.
Everybody definitely wanted to see Ashraful continue his batting in this manner to bring more success for the Tigers and as well also hope that he can understand his position as a captain of the team.
The 23-year old Ashraful was not only reluctant to acknowledge the crowds after making fifty as he raised his bat towards the dressing room to give an unsporting impression about his character but also defended his position during the post-match briefing.
"I am playing for my team and myself. It is my personal matter whether I will raise the bat or not," said Ashraful.
The comment however saddened everybody.