18 June, 2005. Sophia Gardens in Cardiff turned into a carnival of Bangladeshis. Bangladesh led by Habibul Bashar defeated the mighty Australians in Wales. 15 years ago, Bangladesh caused one of the greatest upsets in the history of cricket.
Captained by Ricky Ponting, Australia were a stellar team despite missing the services of Andrew Symonds and Brett Lee. But the almost invincible team was brought to the ground by a teenager, Mohammad Ashraful.
Bangladesh pulled off a daunting task to beat the then three-time champions. A 20-year old Mohammad Ashraful faced Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie, Michael Kasprowicz and Brad Hogg and scored a 101-ball 100 to ensure the victory. Mohammad Ashraful, the hero of the match, spoke to The Business Standard (TBS) about the memorable victory on this day fifteen years ago.
In Ashraful's words
This is Bangladesh's only win against Australia in ODIs. We couldn't win against them since then. No one gave us a chance against the mighty Aussies. Afterwards, we qualified for the quarterfinals of the World Cup. But nothing matches the joy of that victory.
It was a special occasion. Australia were invincible. We all witnessed how Ricky Ponting's Australia ruled the world. We won against that opponent, I got a hundred- you cannot expect more.
It was my most memorable victory in national colors. I have never played against an opponent stronger than them. Though South Africa were the first ranked team, they were not as great as Australia.
I was lucky to start off the innings quickly. I managed to hit three fours right at the start. I pulled, swept and drove through the covers. I could do exactly what I was trying to do.
I had a 130-run partnership with Sumon bhai (Habibul Bashar). That partnership was very crucial. I was discussing with him how to win the match. I was taking calculative risks every over and finding the boundaries. We never let the required run-rate go past 8 an over.
Nowadays even 350 is not a safe score. But at that time, 250 was a tough chase. When you had Australia as your opponent, it became more difficult. We needed to score eight an over in the last twenty overs. But we managed to do so by the grace of the Almighty.
It was satisfying to get a hundred against a bowling line-up that had McGrath, Gillespie, Kasprowicz and Hogg. I grew up watching these guys play. It was special.
We did not have a great series against England. We didn't start off the triangular ODI series either. We had lost to England by 10 wickets before the match. Under the circumstances, beating Australia was like a fairytale. It was a memorable day, not only for us players, but also for the people back home in Bangladesh.
We did not have a very special celebration though. But some Bangladeshis sent two limousines for us to ride around Cardiff. We went out to dinner and returned to the hotel riding on the limousines.
It was special to win against such a strong team and score a hundred. Everyone was congratulating me. The players and the selectors were happy. Faruq bhai (Faruq Ahmed) was the chief selector. He returned home after the Test series. Before returning, he said, "At least score a half-century." He had the feeling that I could win games singlehandedly.
This is one of most favourite innings of mine, but not the most favourite. I always say that the 83-ball 87 against South Africa is my most favourite innings. I will keep the innings against Australia in my top three.
I couldn't start off the Natwest Series well. I scored a duck against England. But then I made 100, 94 and 58. I tried to give my best and all went well.
After that match, we started to believe that we could win against big teams. The belief is the most important thing. You should not lose the game before playing the game. From that point of view, the win against Australia was extremely vital.