GET OUT OF MY WAY: Sri Lankan Malinda Warnapura (R) takes evasive action from a powerful sweep of Bangladesh vice-captain Mashrafe Bin Mortaza whose fighting 63 saved the follow-on on the second day of the second Test at the Chittagong Divisional Stadium yesterday. Photo: Zobaer Hossain Sikder
Mohammad Ashraful might have frustrated everybody with a suicidal dismissal, but he at least inspired someone in the dressing room to salvage his team from the follow-on on the second day of the second and final Test at the Chittagong Divisional Stadium yesterday.
It was none other than his deputy Mashrafe Bin Mortaza who admitted that he got the inspiration from his skipper to play his third half-century to save the follow-on.
"Murali had got me seven or eight times before and every time I was out early. That's why my goal was to survive first which I managed to do today. Also boys in the dressing room and Ash (Ashraful) in particular gave me tips on how to handle him and he encouraged me," said the Bangladesh hero of the day.
"I was thinking more about Murali to be honest. Mendis is obviously world-class and currently the top bowler in international cricket but today I found Murali more difficult comparatively," he added.
The braveheart cricketer, for whom it was nothing new as he did the same thing against India with his career-best 79 to salvage his side from the follow-on last year, also disclosed his plan after Bangladesh were nine down for 145 and still 40 runs away from the follow on target.
"The plan was to save the follow on. I tried to take as much strike as possible but Rajib [Shahadat Hossain] was a brilliant partner. We have batted together in similar situations a few times before, so I had the confidence in him," said Mashrafe recalling his record ninth wicket 77-run partnership with Shahadat.
Mashrafe said that the dismissals of Ashraful and Mushfiqur Rahim were the turning point for them.
"They bowled well with the new ball and Mendis is always dangerous when the ball is new. The turning point was the wicket of Ashraful and maybe that of Mushfiq [Rahim]. They both got set and then got out trying to play shots," he said.
"Ashraful had played brilliantly until he got out. Ash has a habit of hurrying through the 40s and 90s. Also, I think he spotted a scoring opportunity as the off-side fielders were brought in and Murali came round the wicket," he said when asked to comment on his long-time mate Ashraful's fatal reverse sweep on 45 after two previous abortive attempts.
Sri Lanka were in a comfortable position after the second day's play but the Bangladesh vice-captain still believed that it could be a good contest.
"I think the third day will be crucial in the context of the match. If we can bowl well and restrict them then this match can turn into a good contest. We have to show the application like we did in Mirpur," he hoped.
"There are cracks in the pitch but not that prominent and if you look back to the Test here against New Zealand in October the pitch actually got better for batting in the last three days," he added.