Fri, Sep 14, 2007 - Page 24 News List

Ashraful hits fastest 50 to help send the West Indies packing

AFP , JOHANNESBURG, South Africa

Bangladesh captain Mohammad Ashraful smashed the fastest ever half-century in Twenty20 cricket yesterday to throw the West Indies out of the world championships.

The 23-year-old dynamo pounded seven boundaries and three sixes in 61 off 27 balls as Bangladesh overtook the West Indian total of 164-8 with 12 deliveries to spare at the Wanderers.

Aftab Ahmed chipped in with an unbeaten 62, sharing a rollicking stand of 109 for the third wicket with Ashraful that came off just 62 deliveries.

Ashraful reached his half-century off 20 balls by hooking Fidel Edwards for a six, surpassing Sri Lankan Sanath Jayasuriya's 23-ball 50 against New Zealand at Wellington last year.

The West Indies were knocked out of the 12-nation tournament with their second successive defeat following the eight-wicket loss to South Africa in Tuesday's opening match.

The West Indians, who were sent in to bat on a drying wicket, struggled to 104-3 in 15 overs before the lower order added 60 valuable runs in the last five overs.

Dwayne Smith hit 29 off seven balls to lead his team's recovery, but the target of 8.3 runs an over was easily overtaken by the Bangladesh batsmen.

The match was delayed by an hour due to a wet pitch caused by excessive watering overnight by the ground staff, but there was no reduction in the number of overs.

"I think it was a very good toss to win because batting could not be easy on a drying wicket," Ashraful said. "I knew in my mind that 50 percent of the match had been won by winning the toss but we still had to go out there and get the runs. The boys have trained hard over the past month. We even attended an army commando camp and I was confident we will do well in Twenty20."

Bangladesh lost openers Mohammad Nazimuddin and Tamim Iqbal by the fourth over with just 28 runs on the board before Ashraful joined Aftab to leave the West Indies in the dumps.

Ashraful began with four boundaries in Daren Powell's third over which realized 18 runs and then hit seamer Ravi Rampaul for a six and four off consecutive balls.

The dapper batsman welcomed Dwayne Bravo with four, four, six.

At the other end, Aftab rotated the strike skillfully and hit eight boundaries and a six.

Yesterday's second game in Cape Town: England 188-9 (20 overs) beat Zimbabwe 138-7 (20 overs) by 50 runs.

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