When the dust settles on a performance that started with Bangladesh’s backs pressed firmly against the wall and ended in a thumping 137-run win, two statistically performances -- wide apart in statistical terms but closely linked in terms of impact -- will stand the test of time.
After the Asia Cup opener against Sri Lanka at the Dubai International Stadium on Saturday, Bangladesh seemed to give equal priority to Mushfiqur Rahim’s 150-ball 144 and opener Tamim Iqbal’s unbeaten two off four deliveries.
Tamim was out of commission as early as the second over when Suranga Lakmal dealt his left wrist a painful blow that soon required a trip to the hospital for a scan. The examination revealed a broken wrist and the word from the team management was that Tamim would not take further part in the innings.
But when the fall of Bangladesh’s ninth wicket in the 47th over left Mushfiqur stranded on 112, the sight of Tamim walking down the steps with bat in hand and a modified left glove that had a hole in it so that his bandaged hand could poke out, it gave Mushfiqur the fillip to take his innings to another level and thoroughly demoralised the Sri Lankans.
Mashrafe said that taking the risk of going out to play with one hand was not just a brave deed by Tamim but one that could have had consequences on the rest of the left-hander’s career.
“Tamim should be remembered for this match. Not just this match; anything could have happened. It was a question of his career too,” said Mashrafe at the post-match press conference. “Him going to the crease also gave Mushfiqur a boost to score those 32 runs. I can’t find the words to describe what Tamim did. Hats off to him.”
Sources close to the team say that it was Mashrafe’s decision to send Tamim to bat, but only if Mushfiqur was on strike, so as not to endanger Bangladesh’s highest run-scorer any further. That Tamim walked out when Mushfiqur was at the non-striker’s end hints that Tamim took the decision on his own, putting his team ahead of his health.
“Let Tamim tell that story. The decision at the end of the day was his because he was the one who went out to bat. If he didn’t want to bat, no one could push him, so the credit must obviously go to him,” Mashrafe said.
Although Tamim is almost certain to be ruled out of the rest of the Asia Cup, and likely for some time afterwards, Mashrafe still seemed to hold out hope.
“His scan has to be done again. We still don’t know what’s going on. If we miss him it’s a big blow, but we have some players in the bank. We have to wait for two days to get the scan done, so let’s see. There is a little fracture for sure -- now we have to find out how bad it is.”