Veteran Bangladesh cricketer Mohammad Ashraful was still dreaming to make a comeback in the national team as his five-year long ban from international cricket ended on Sunday.
The former Bangladesh skipper, who is regarded as the first ‘superstar’ of Bangladesh cricket, served five-year suspension after he confessed his involvement in match-fixing and spot-fixing during the second edition of Bangladesh Premier League in 2013.
Ashraful was initially given a ban of eight years and fined Tk 10 lakhs after over a year-long tribunal held by the Bangladesh Cricket Board in 2014 but his ban was reduced to five years later after he appealed against the verdict on the same year.
Ashraful’s ban was partially lifted in 2016, enabling him to play domestic first-class and List A cricket but he had to wait for August 13, 2018 to be eligible for playing in international cricket and franchise-based Twenty20 competitions.
‘In the last five years I never felt that I could not make a comeback. There was no such moment when I felt less confident. I always had a feeling that I can make a return to the team,’ Ashraful, who is currently in United Kingdom on a personal trip, told New Age on Sunday.
‘Although in the last two years, I have played several first-class and List A matches in Bangladesh but to be eligible to play in international matches and BPL, I had to wait for August 13, 2018. By the grace of Almighty these days have finally been finished. I will be available for the selection once again to play for Bangladesh team and BPL,’ he added.
Since his international debut in 2001, Ashraful proved himself as one of the finest talents in cricketing world as he became the youngest centurion in Test cricket in his debut Test against Sri Lanka at Colombo.
The 34-year old cricketer, who played 61 Tests, 177 ODIs and 23 Twenty20 international matches for Bangladesh, single-handedly won several matches for the Tigers, which brought him immense popularity both home and abroad.
However, looking into his current age and fitness there might be some doubt regarding his comeback in the national side once again though his performance in last Dhaka Premier League was quite good.
Ashraful hit five hundreds in 13 matches in the 50-over domestic tournament, only the second batsman to do so in a single List-A tournament after South Africa’s Alviro Peterson and scored 665 runs at an average of 66.50.
‘I have been working with my fitness a lot in the last two years. In last two months, I lost eight to nine kg weight and I think my fitness level is very higher than any other time.
‘It was a dream to represent Bangladesh again during last five years and I am hopeful that I will have a good first class domestic season this year. During the last domestic season, especially in Dhaka Premier League, I had overall a good season,’ he added.
Ashraful also expressed his desire to be part of Bangladesh squad in the forthcoming ICC World Cup in England and Wales next year though he observed that it would be a hard nut to crack for him to do so.
‘I knew that it would be tough to get a place in the national team. But I think if I can perform well there are lot of areas where I can serve Bangladesh cricket and I have a deep belief on that.
‘As the World Cup is close to the door, I will try everything like improving fitness level, performing well in – DPL, BPL, national league, BCL – in wherever I play. I want to perform well and that may help me to get selected in the team,’ he said.
Ashraful match-fixing timeline
February 02, 2013: Mohammad Ashraful led Dhaka Gladiators to suffer a 54-run defeat against Chittagong Kings at MA Aziz Stadium in Chittagong. Gladiators were chasing a modest target of 143 against Kings and could reach only 88-8 in their full 20 overs. Some of the dismissals of Gladiators batsmen raised suspicions of spot-fixing in the game while Ashraful, who opened the innings, made an unusual knock of 33 off 48 balls.
June 4, 2013: BCB indefinitely suspended Ashraful in a meeting after Ashraful admitted to his involvement in spot-fixing. Later in a statement, BCB confirmed that the board decided not to involve Mohammad Ashraful in any cricketing activity under BCB’s jurisdiction until further notice.
June 18, 2014: Ashraful was banned for eight years by the BPL anti-corruption tribunal for his involvement in match and spot-fixing in the BPL. Dhaka Gladiators’ managing director Shihab Chowdhury was banned for 10 years for fixing, former New Zealand batsman Lou Vincent was suspended for three years, and Sri Lanka batsman Kaushal Lokuarachchi got an 18-month ban for failing to report an approach.
September 29, 2014: BCB’s disciplinary panel reduced Ashraful’s ban to five years after he had appealed to the disciplinary panel chief, Justice Mohammad Abdur Rashid in July.
August 13, 2016: Ashraful’s ban was partially lifted in 2016, enabling him to play domestic first–class and List A cricket. He played two seasons in domestic cricket in the country and in the last Dhaka Premier League he hit five hundreds in 13 matches.
August 13, 2018: Ashraful becomes eligible to play all international cricket and franchise-based Twenty20 competitions as his ban was ended on August 12.
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