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Since 1st March, 1999
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Not a ball bowled on Day III of Chittagong Test
- We’ll be ready to beat top sides within a year, says Ashraful

Chittagong: Umpires Daryl Harper and Billy Doctrove came out of their enclosure around 10 am on Sunday and headed towards the pitch, which was well protected after heavy overnight and morning showers.

The rain had stopped briefly, but heavy clouds hung over the stadium ominously.

As they approached a groundsman, the skies opened up again. The umpires rushed back indoors and a few minutes later came the inevitable announcement: Day III of the first Test had been called off without a ball being bowled.

A little over a day’s play (97 overs in all) has been possible in the match thus far. And with no sign of the depression petering out, chances of a decisive result are virtually nil.

“The situation is not good at all. Even if we get a sunny day tomorrow (Monday), play can’t resume before the second session,” said Doctrove.

Inshallah, we’ll get some cricket going here,” said his partner Harper.

Habibul Bashar & Co. decided to have an indoor nets session, while the Indians preferred to stay back at their hotel. If the groundstaff worked tirelessly to make 20 overs possible on Day II, the weather didn’t give them any chance to get the field ready on Sunday.

Disappointment was a common word in the Bangladesh camp.

“We were desperately looking to play a full Test, our first in 13 months. But I think we have to shift our focus now to Dhaka,” vice-captain Mohammed Ashraful said.

The second and final Test begins there on Friday.

“We have developed into a good one-day side over the years, but we haven’t had a chance to play Test cricket since March last year. We are a side in transition and there are a few quality players coming up. We have gained tremendous confidence from our World Cup show. All we need now is more time and experience to evolve into a quality Test side,” the 22-year-old Ashraful told The Telegraph.

“Our record as a Test side has not been great and I take the criticism positively. I’m sure we will be capable of beating top Test sides within a year,” he added.

Ashraful, touted as a future captain, sees an Arjuna Ranatunga-like role for himself. “Just look at how Arjuna and Aravinda de Silva transformed Sri Lanka into a fine Test side after their World Cup win. I wish I can play the same role for Bangladesh,” Ashraful remarked.

The post-Dav Whatmore era, according to him, will be crucial for Bangladesh cricket.

“Whatmore is a great coach. He made us believe that we can succeed by overcoming difficult situations. That’s his key contribution to our cricket and we need to keep the momentum going,” he added.

“He’s been a lucky coach for us. If he becomes India coach, he will be lucky for you also,” Ashraful signed off.

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