Ashraful Islam made his entrance to the country's hockey scenario at a very early age and didn't take much time to prove himself as one of the best penalty corner specialists.
However, it was anything but an easy ride as he had to compete against renowned drag-and-flick specialist Mamunur Rahman Chayan.
Former national captain Chayan had been taking drag-flick shots for quite a long time before Ashraful threatened his place in the last South Asian Games in Guwahati where he netted against Sri Lanka to open his international account.
Ashraful continued to improve immensely in the last couple of years but his performance in Saturday's game against India in the Under-18 Asia Cup Hockey was undoubtedly a milestone in the 18-year-old's career. He bagged four goals, all from penalty corners.
“This victory gives us a huge boost to increase our confidence level. Hopefully we will continue playing like this and do well in the next matches,” said an elated Ashraful after the 5-4 win against India.
Hailing from BKSP, Ashraful made his senior team debut in 2014 in the second round of the Hockey World League at the age of only 16.
But this year, he took himself to a new level.
He scored eight goals in the Premier Division Hockey League this season for Mariner Young's Club, who emerged as champions for the first time in history.
Following their victory over favourites India, the boys in red and green are in a comfortable position to move through to the final.
And ahead of their second match against Oman, scheduled for this Tuesday at the same venue, Ashraful said, “Our only aim is to become champions. We have been working hard, giving our best in training in the last one month. We have prepared ourselves for the championship.
“During the training camp, the coach gave me extra time, besides daily training, and practised drag and flicks. I tried to score from as many chances as possible and I'm happy that I did it.”