DateLine: 29th April 2009
Mohammad Ashraful turned a terrible mismatch into a slice of history by becoming the youngest player to make a Test century. Bangladesh still crashed to heavy defeat, but Ashraful brought hope and consolation with a sparkling hundred, repeatedly dancing down to hit the Sri Lankan spinners, including Muralitharan, back over their heads on his debut. It was the day before his 17th birthday according to some sources, and 63 days after it according to most others: either way, he broke the long-standing record set by Mushtaq Mohammad (17 years 82 days) when he made 101 for Pakistan against India in 1960-61. Inevitably, such a heady early achievement proved hard to live up to, and after a prolonged poor run Ashraful was dropped for England's first visit in October 2003. He returned to the side a better player, but no less flamboyant, as he demonstrated with a glorious unbeaten 158 in defeat against India at Chittagong late in 2004. Still not 21 when Bangladesh made their maiden tour of England the following year, Ashraful confirmed his status as one for the future at Cardiff, when his brilliantly paced century set Bangladesh up for their astonishing victory over Australia in the NatWest Series. But Ashraful didn't fulfil his evident potential on the tour of Sri Lanka that followed, often getting out to loose shots, and made little impact against the Australians early in 2006 either.
An extended run of poor form forced the management to drop Ashraful for the final qualifying match of the Champions Trophy against Zimbabwe. He was appointed Bangladesh's captain in June 2007 at the tender age of 22.
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