Enigmatic Ashraful is Bangladeshi hero

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, April 8, 2007 (AFP) – Stylish batsman Mohammad Ashraful finally bridged the gap between potential and performance with his brisk half-century in Bangladesh’s shock win over South Africa in the World Cup.

He has often come under fire for performing much below his potential since making a dream debut against Sri Lanka in 2001 when he became the youngest-ever batsman at 17 to score a Test century.

Just when Bangladesh believed that they had found a gem, they were in for a disappointment as Ashraful could never maintain the consistency required to become a great player.

Ashraful is an enigma. He is a spectators’ delight when in flow and capable of dominating any attack on any surface with a wide range of attacking shots.

But he has not done justice to his talent, throwing his wicket away in a bid to play one shot too many early in his innings.

Bangladesh were fortunate to find Ashraful in good touch on Saturday as the middle-order batsman hammered an 83-ball 87 with 12 fours to help his side post a challenging 251-8 against South Africa in a Super Eights match here.

The total was good enough to put pressure on South Africa, who were bowled out for 184 to suffer their first-ever