Pace duo Mashrafe Bin Mortaza and Taskin Ahmed used the overcast conditions perfectly but Tamim Iqbal looked focused on his job during a preparation game at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur yesterday. A cautious and careful approach saw the batsman remain unbeaten (44 runs off 102 balls) before coach Chandika Hathurusingha gave him a rest following the rain interval. Tamim seemed to try his best to keep to the basics as it was the need of the hour for the opener to retain his place in the side. From being an automatic choice for a long time, the Chittagonian suddenly came under the scanner for his series of failures with the willow this year. His batting approach in particular led many to believe that there was something wrong and he needed a break.
Tamim is yet to make a stamp on international cricket in the year 2014; the left-hander's form remains a cause for concern for the team think-tank. The southpaw batsman has scored 6, 11, 0 and 31 in two Tests, 0 and 4 in two ODIs and 30, 2, 21, 30, 0, 5, 6, 16 and 5 in the nine T20 innings he has played so far this year.
With such a sordid backdrop, the left-hander is going to play a series in West Indies. If he can rediscover his form during the series it would be great news for the think-tank, but anything less would create a big dilemma for them ahead of the next year World Cup.
Here lies a different challenge for the experienced opener and many have termed the Caribbean tour a mission to keep his place in the team. In that context yesterday's innings was a confidence-building knock for the batsman, who was drafted in the ODI squad along with three other opening batsmen.
“Tamim did exactly what was required to rediscover his form. He applied himself perfectly and looked very focused on his batting. It might not be his natural batting but he desperately needed this sort of approach, especially at a time when he has been going through a lean patch,” said selector Habibul Bashar, who was watching the practice match from his room at the Mirpur headquarters.
“He is practising hard and it's nice to see him apply himself perfectly. We all know about his flashy style of batting and I agree that you should have a few players in the side who have a license to play their shots. But a license doesn't mean you cannot understand the situation. We arranged a 60-over match because we wanted to see the players make the most of the practice out in the middle and it's nice that Tamim responded well to our idea,” added the former national skipper.
Pace spearhead Mashrafe also spoke highly on Tamim's improved batting approach in the first practice game while he talking to the media after the match.
“Tamim has been practising hard since the end of the India series. I hope he gets back his form because he batted really well today. He batted in a different style as he took time to settle down in the middle. When a batsman is going through a bad patch, he needs to change himself and Tamim did it today. He played almost 100 balls and didn't give a single chance to the bowlers,” said Mashrafe.
The cynical have been saying that Tamim recorded the fastest recovery from injury of his career, as he played the practice match after injuring his ankle on Monday. But cynicism aside, he needs to recover his rhythm as quickly for the good of himself and Bangladesh cricket.