Mohammad Ashraful. File photo
Beleaguered Bangladesh cricketer Mohammad Ashraful, who returns to the BPL fold after serving a five-year ban for match-fixing in the second edition of the tournament, is hoping to give his best for his franchise Chittagong Vikings while admitting that it will be a challenge for him competing with some of the big names in the tournament.
There were no takers for Ashraful in the draft of the Bangladesh Cricket League, the franchise-based first-class tournament, as well as the Afghanistan Premier League. But the Vikings decided to rope him in by mentioning that he was a game changer and that he had learnt from his mistakes. "Earlier we had picked Mohammad Amir once he was eligible to play after that fixing saga, and he returned to the national set-up. We believe the same will happen to Ashraful as well," Vikings owner Abdul Wahed had said.
Stating that the upcoming edition of the BPL could serve as a platform for making an international comeback, Ashraful said his experience of over a decade in international cricket and the fact that he scored five hundreds in the Dhaka League, would hold him in good stead for the next BPL season.
"Obviously, it will be challenging, it's an international standard tournament and it will count if you play well. As I have the experience of playing 13 years in international cricket, the first two editions of the BPL and also as part of the champion side, I will try to give my best Chittagong Vikings. It is also important that my team gets benefited through my performance," Ashraful told reporters.
"I have faced the punishment for my guilt and was out of this format for five years and nine months. I have admitted my mistake and received the punishment and also played domestic cricket in the last two years. My fans are also waiting for me to play well and wondering whether I will be able to make a return. I will try to play well in the BPL for them, at the same time I will look to make a comeback for our cricket (national team). It will be an example if I am able to return by my performance, and I think it will be challenging," he added.
Ashraful, who's 34 years old, admitted that the nature of cricket has changed a lot during the period of his ban. But he is hoping to make every opportunity count during his stint with the Vikings while harbouring hopes of a national comeback.
"It's true that I want to wear the jersey of the Bangladesh team again and it's a huge platform. I have struck five hundreds in the Dhaka League but nobody has seen it. I know if I am able to play well here, though the style of cricket has changed a lot since I played, (I can) look to make a comeback in international cricket. I have received the platform after five years and if I get a chance, I will give my best.
"As I am a batsman and if I am able to remain fit, I believe that I will be able to play for another four-five years," Ashraful said, brushing aside concerns regarding his age. "You can see quite a few players of that age in international cricket and it depends on the fitness.
"And I definitely want to play for Bangladesh team as I have played the 2003, 2007 and 2011 World Cup and if it wasn't for my suspension, I would have also played the 2015 World Cup. As the 2019 World Cup is approaching, I am not thinking about that but still I think if I am able to perform, my experience may be counted," he concluded.