Ashraful Challenges Team To Make First Innings Count
Bangladesh captain Mohammad Ashraful has challenged his team to bat for at least four sessions in their first innings of the second Test against Sri Lanka if they are to compete.
The home side lost the first Test in Mirpur by 107 runs despite scoring 413 in the second innings, in which Ashraful scored 101, and their first innings of 178 went a long way to deciding their fate.
"We need to bat four sessions at least in the first innings," he said. "If we do that then we'll have a decent score on the board. That's the pre-requisite for us getting a positive result in Test matches and a positive result can be a win also.
"We start the New Year with a lot of confidence because of our second innings performance in the first Test in Dhaka. We are getting better as a team and the boys believe that and this year we will have plenty of opportunities to show our improvement. We will try to play well in this Test match."
Sri Lankan 'mystery' bowler Ajantha Mendis is likely to return for the second Test in Chittagong, which begins on January 3rd, but Ashraful was confident his players would be able to deal with the threat.
"Some of us have played him in One Day Internationals during the Asia Cup," he said. "But One Dayers and Test matches are different. Mushie (Mushfiqur Rahim) and Roqibul (Hasan) played him quite well. We have seen him bowling against India on television. We also have footages but it is important not to think of him or Muralitharan too much and just try to play ball by ball. He has done very well in recent times and has taken heaps of wickets but our focus will be on playing each ball on its merit because this is a Test match."
Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene said that the match represented the start of another big year for his side.
"This is the start of another important year for us," he said. "Last year we beat India in a Test series, drew with England and beat the West Indies in the West Indies for the first time in our history. This is a new year and we have a lot of cricket in front of us."
It will be Jayawardene's 100th Test and he admitted that he was a little emotional about the occasion, and he is also 74 runs short of reaching 8,000 runs in Test matches.
"I can't say that I'm not emotional. I'm not thinking about the personal milestone. It has been an honour to play for Sri lanka and I have said this before that I never expected to play 100 Test matches when I started off. I want to enjoy the day and the moment and I would love to perform and lead the team to victory in this match."
Bangladesh (from): Tamim Iqbal, Imrul Kayes, Zunaed Siddique, Mohammad Ashraful (captain), Roqibul Hasan, Mehrab Hossain jr., Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mashrafe Mortaza, Shahadat Hossain, Enamul Haque jr., Mahbubul Alam
Sri Lanka (possible): Michael Vandort, Malinda Warnapura, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene (captain), Thilan Samaraweera, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Prasanna Jayawardene, Chaminda Vaas, Dammika Prasad, Ajantha Mendis, Muttiah Muralitharan
© Cricket World 2008