DateLine: 19th February 2007
He is only 22 but is already regarded as the countrys best batsman. His name is also associated with three of the outstanding feats accomplished by a Bangladesh batsman. For starters at the age of 17 he became the youngest from any country to make a Test century. This was against Sri Lanka in 2001-2002 at Colombo when he hit 114 in a losing cause. Making light of an attack that included Muthiah Muralitharan Ashraful caught the eye with his dashing batsmanship and was hailed as a star. But after this heady start he endured a string of disappointing scores and was dropped when England toured Bangladesh in 2003-2004. He was back against India the following season when again in a losing cause he hit a glorious undefeated 158 at Chittagong. Wisden was gushing in praise.Ashraful played the innings of the tour. His forthright biffing of the fast bowlers "hooking while hopping on one leg a la Gordon Greenidge" and his effervescent thwacking of the spinners got the crowd to its feet. He raced to his 50 from 70 balls then needed just 55 more to reach his second Test century going from 76 to three figures with seven consecutive scoring shots. If anything that spurred him on for he unfurled such authoritative and audacious strokes that India were forced to spread the field to him, close it in to his partners and hope for a mistake. The mistake never came from Ashraful who scored 158 not out from only 194 balls with 24 fours and three sixes beating the previous best by Bangladesh "Aminul Islams 145 in the inaugural Test also against India".A few months later he confirmed his rising stature with a brilliant 100 that set up Bangladeshs astonishing victory over Australia in the NatWest series at Cardiff.
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