Dhaka: Mohammad Ashraful thought he had played his last innings in the World Cup before his part-time bowling gave him a new lease of life during Bangladesh’s Group B must-win game against Ireland.
Former skipper Ashraful, who was not selected for Bangladesh’s opening match against India, was out for one run playing a suicidal sweep shot in an important stage of the innings, which put his future in doubt.
As he trudged back to the pavilion, the 26-year-old feared that pens were already being sharpened to write his one-day international obituary.
His two wickets for 42 runs not only gave him the hope of reviving his one-day career but also helped Bangladesh win the game by 27 runs.
“It was a very painful moment for me when I got out,” Ashraful said in an interview on Monday as he reflected on the dramatic game three days earlier.
“I thought maybe I played my last innings in this World Cup. I was really very disappointed.”
“But when I started warming up for fielding, our fielding coach and trainer cheered me up.”
“Tamim (Iqbal) and Shakib (Al Hasan) also came to encourage me and they asked me to get ready for bowling.”
He continued: “I finally came on in the 12th over, bowled two overs in the powerplay, did well, which gave me confidence.”
“Then I changed ends and got a wicket (caught and bowled Ed Joyce). It came as a big relief. When I got the second wicket, it took all the pressure off,” said Ashraful.
When Ashraful bowled all-rounder Andrew White for his second wicket he celebrated in a manner as if that alone had won Bangladesh the game.
“The celebration came from inside. I didn’t really plan for it,” said Ashraful.
Ashraful bowled nine overs in the match and the first seven of them were extremely tight. If he had not received some punishment in his last two overs, his bowling figures would have been even more impressive than they were.
In his 165-match ODI career, the longest by a Bangladeshi, Ashraful has bowled nine overs only once previously and that was back in 2002 against the West Indies.
Ashraful, who bowled leg spin at the start of his career before turning to off spin, has only 17 wickets to his credit in a career spanning nearly a decade.
Ashraful, however, planned to pay more attention to his bowling after the Ireland game, and he believes it can also help cement his place in the squad.
“I have been bowling for the last two years but I didn’t get that much a chance to do it in international cricket,” he said.
“Hopefully, I will bowl regularly now. Both coach and captain know that I am interested in bowling,” he said.