Ashraful defends Mortaza axe
Mohammad Ashraful has defended the decision to drop fast bowler Mashrafe Mortaza for Sunday's one-dayer against South Africa.
By Joe Drabble
Last Updated: 10/03/08 11:11am
Bangladesh captain Mohammad Ashraful has defended the decision to drop fast bowler Mashrafe Mortaza for Sunday's opening one-day international against South Africa.
The nine-wicket defeat for the hosts resulted in an inquest over the quick-bowler's absence, but Ashraful maintained the selection was as a result of Mortaza's recent poor form.
The Tigers vice-captain failed to take a single wicket in the Test series against South Africa, and was dropped from the Chittagong encounter as the team management opted for three left-arm spinners in Abdur Razzak, Shakib Al Hasan and Mosharraf Hossain.
"It doesn't matter whether you are the captain, vice-captain or the number one player in the side - if you don't perform sooner or later your place will be under threat," Ashraful told www.tigercricket.com.
"We had to drop Mortaza because of team balance.
"We wanted to go in with three spinners and Razzak would have opened the bowling with new ball bowler Syed Rasel anyway. That was the plan.
"Rasel has been very steady over the last year or two and has given fewer than 40 runs in most matches while bowling his full quota of overs.
"Shahadat Hossain is in good form which he showed in the Test series and also in New Zealand."
Ashraful admitted his side's batting had let them down again as Bangladesh were bowled out for just 178 before Proteas captain Graeme Smith scored 103 not out to guide his team to a comfortable victory.
"We won the toss which was important but apart from Tamim Iqbal (82), no-one contributed," said Ashraful.
"The second highest was 15, and 178 was at least 40 to 50 runs short of what could have been a competitive total.
"We did not want to lose wickets between overs 20 and 40 but we lost four. That's where we went wrong."
Bangladesh and South Africa will meet in Dhaka on Wednesday for the second game of the three-match series.