Terrific Tamim takes Tigers to Super 10
Tamim knew it was coming. So did his coach Chandika Hathurrusingha. And that is why the left-handed opener rolled his fingers over his head as a mark of respect towards the dugout after those celebratory punches in the air moments after becoming the first Bangladesh batsman to score a T20I century. Do not forget, he has also become Bangladesh's first batsman to score 1000 runs in the shortest version of the game.
His imperious 103 off 63 balls against Oman in a must-win ICC World T20 qualifier is just an extension of the kind of form he has been showing for the last six months. Yesterday's master-class, that contained 10 fours and five sixes, ensured that Bangladesh, who made 180 for two after being sent in to bat, progress into the tournament proper in some style, beating lightweights Oman by 54 runs in the Duckworth-Lewis method.
The Tigers will now fly back to Kolkata for their opening Super 10 Group A game against Pakistan at the Eden Gardens on March 16.
At the top of his form, Tamim, who only the other day said that he has now become cooler and wiser, played yet another breathtaking innings in the flagship ICC event after his unbeaten 83 against Holland and an equally impressive 47 in that washed out game against Ireland.
On a chilly night in Dharamsala, where temperatures dropped to five degrees Celsius, Tamim's innings provided the necessary fire for the spectators to warm themselves.
Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Bin Mortaza may have lost his fifth straight toss since the Asia Cup game against Pakistan and was asked to bat. The opening pair of Tamim and an out-of-sorts Soumya Sarkar may have scored just 29 runs in the first six Powerplay overs.
But with Tamim around and Sabbir Rahman playing the perfect supporting actor's role at the other end, Bangladesh flourished till the last Oman over was bowled.
Tamim reached his 50 off 35 balls and with him the Tigers total reached the 100-run mark in 12.4 overs. The left-hander then celebrated his fourth fifty with a massive six over long-off.
The mercurial left-hander equalled his previous best T20 score of 88 with a couple and then pulled one for a sweetly-timed six over midwicket to take his score to 94. By the time Tamim raced to the 90s, Sabbir Rahman had left, being bowled around his legs while trying to sweep, but not before he clobbered a 26-ball 44 that contained five fours and a six. Sabbir's innings more than compensated for the slow start and an ugly 22-ball 12 by Soumya.
Tamim then took a couple and a quick single, a refreshing feature of a redefined batsman, to move on to 97. He played three dot balls in the 19th over including a full toss. He can be spared for missing out on those deliveries because he was only three runs from scripting a piece of history. He however did not make any mistake in dispatching the fourth, a trademark Tamim off-drive that beat the extra-cover and mid-off fielders, and Bangladesh presented its first T20I centurion to the world: Tamim Iqbal 101 off 60 balls.
Shakib Al Hasan, Tamim's rival for the race to 1000 runs, batted intelligently in the final over clobbering most of those 15 runs with a four and a six. Oman's innings, disrupted by intermittent rain, never took off once their opener Zeeshan Maqsood was out for a duck in the very first over delivered by Taskin Ahmed. They kept on losing wickets before and after every rain-induced interval in a chase that kept the statisticians on their toes, updating the revised targets. Actually, Bangladesh's 180 was too big a total for the amateurs of Oman, a team comprised mostly of Indian and Pakistani expatriates. After two rain breaks, Oman on 45-4 in 8.2 overs, were finally given a revised target of 120 runs for a win in 12 over. They scored 65-9 with Shakib claiming four for 15, his best bowling figures in the format, beating his previous best of 4 for 21. It was Shakib's fourth four-wicket haul. The Bangladesh all-rounder, who also scored a nine-ball 17, can consider this performance as some sort of a tonic to his rhythm back to the big stage.
SCORES IN BRIEF
BANGLADESH: 180 for 2 in 20 overs (Tamim 103 not out, Sabbir 44; Khawar 1-24)
OMAN: 65 for 9 in 12 overs (Singh 25, Ilyas 13; Shakib 4-15, Taskin 1-8, Al-Amin 1-10, Mortaza 1-10, Sabbir 1-5)
Result: Bangladesh won by 54 runs (D/L method).
Player-of-the-match: Tamim Iqbal.