Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Abahani beat Mohammedan

Abahani survived a late scare to manage a two-wicket victory against archrivals Mohammedan in a low-scoring match at the Mirpur Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium yesterday to bounce back in the Premier Cricket League title race.

In an otherwise dull affair between the two traditional rivals, nervous moments suddenly crept in the dying stage when Abahani lost four wickets in the space of 34 runs after a crucial 60-run fifth wicket stand between Shahriar Nafees and Nadif Chowdhury took the side to 125-4.

Nafees struck a well-composed 57 with four boundaries in 111 balls and man-of-the-match Nadif chipped in with 41 off 88 deliveries as defending champions Abahani posted 164 for eight in 46.4 overs in reply to Mohammedan's 162 all out to open the door for second-placed Biman to finish the first-leg atop.

Biman are on 17 points with a match in hand while Mohammedan and Abahani have 18 and 17 points respectively after completion of all their 11 matches.

Only a few supporters turned up to watch the game under scorching heat and it was a painful experience for everybody to see poor cricket all around despite the fact that as many as seven current national cricketers were part of it including captain Mohammad Ashraful.

Ashraful's men were lucky enough that days of repercussion after bad performances are gone in this time.

Everybody was surprised how it was possible for a team (Mohammedan) to score 162 when they have four top-order batsmen of the national team in their ranks. There was, however, no need to think more about the reasons behind when their prized batsman Ashraful played an unnecessary slog-sweep against left-arm spinner Arafat Sunny to be bowled in a crucial situation.

The most disappointed man after the match was none other than Mohammedan coach Minhajul Abedin, one of the finest batsmen the country has ever produced, who is also highly praised for his true professional attitude during a prolific career.

"The reality is that they (national players) have hardly any commitment. You have to be hungry for runs and you have to play for yourself first. A national player should show his class in domestic circuit but unfortunately, none could do it. It's funny that out of four, not a single batsman scored a fifty," said Minhajul.

"And it seems that they have appeared at the ground for the roll-call. If one national player can't make more than five fifties in ten matches, then how we would differentiate him from an average cricketer?" questioned the frustrated former national skipper.

Another ex-Bangladesh captain turned coach Aminul Islam, in charge of defending champions Abahani for the second year, was not so harsh but he was also critical of the approaches of the national stars.

"It was really frustrating the way our national players played in this match and I have doubt about their seriousness," said Aminul.

He praised Nafees for a brilliant innings that turned the match in their favour but was not fully satisfied about the left-hander's efforts.

"I must say Nafees played sensibly to win the match for us but the question is why he and Nadif failed to finish the job. It could have been a different story after they threw away their wickets in the last moment," he added.

According to Mahbubul Anam, former cricket board general secretary and an influential Mohammedan official, 'lack of knowledge' is the reason behind the gloomy feature.

"Whatever it is, commitment or any other thing, all comes from the head," said the bearded organiser after the match.

Ashraful as usually was not ready to accept the blame about lack of commitment. "I think we lacked patience and I am the best example of that," he said in defence of his colleagues.

MOHAMMEDAN: 162 all out in 49.5 overs (Imtiaz 6, Zunaed 5, Anwar 6, Aftab 10, Ashraful 20, Rokibul 14, Aqeel 10, Shuvo 27, Razzak 21, Dollar 25, Tapash 8*, extras 10, Zia 1-29, Talha 1-26, Rafique 1-34, Rezaul 1-22, Sunny 3-29).
ABAHANI: 164 for eight in 46.4 overs (Sahagir 5, Mahbubul 24, Nafees 57, Nazimuddin 1, Tushar 2, Nadif 41, Rezaul 5, Rafique 11, Sunny 7*, Zia 5*, extras 6, Razzak 3-30, Tapash 2-21, Aqeel 1-27, Shuvo 1-32).
Result: Abahani win by two wickets.

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