Asharaful blames wicket for debacle
Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Sport Correspondent

For the adjudicators it was a difficult job to find the man-of-the-match in Bangladesh's first Test against South Africa, as there was no individual player, who single-handedly dominated the game.

Jacques Kallis won it finally for his five wickets in the second innings that effectively ended Bangladesh's hopes of giving a challenging target to the visitors.

But the real 'man-of-the-match' was the wicket at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium that dominated the talk right from the beginning to the end of the Test.

While the South Africans were surprised to see its black soil and unpredictable bounces, Bangladesh lamented the lack of its assistance to the spinners, who were their best hope in the game.

A total of 35 wickets fell in four days of the game, but only seven of them went to the account of spinners. The lack of turn left Bangladesh in a helpless situation during South Africa's second innings so much so that they could use their second spinner Sakib al Hasan only for seven overs without any success. 'Yes, the wicket did not meet our expectation.

We were expecting more turn here,' said Bangladesh captain Mohammad Ashraful without hiding his frustration at the post-match press conference.

Ashraful's comment prompted the grounds committee of the Bangladesh Cricket Board to call an emergency meeting, where the curator of the stadium Badiul Alam had to face a volley of questions.

Alam was also show-caused by the BCB after Bangladesh's last Test on this ground when India had scored 610 runs after the hosts won the toss and opted to field after failing to read the wicket. It was not that the Bangladesh team only criticised the wicket this time around.

South African captain Graeme Smith was also highly critical of the pitch during his post-match press briefing. 'I think probably the nature of the wicket is little bit tougher than the other sub-continental turfs.

'The lack of bounces and pace something we took some time to get used to,' said Smith. 'This is very different than what we got in Pakistan; South Africa, Australia and even in India.

I think for Bangladesh… they have to get a look at this fact of the game. For their benefit, they have to play on a wicket that is conducive to what we get pretty much around the world,' added Smith.

'I think the challenge for the Bangladesh team is how they are going to play on the wickets around the world. Their batsmen have to keep on improving,' said Smith.

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