Before Tamim Iqbal, a procession of wickets was guaranteed. But for the last two years, Bangladesh have been given a good start with the bat. This year, in particular, the left-hander has scored 837 runs nearly at an average of 60 in Tests and some more in ODIs. More than the runs, Tamim has added a much-needed stability. The Daily Star Sport's Mohammad Isam met him yesterday at the team hotel.
Daily Star Sport (DSS): How has the progress been in the series so far?
Tamim Iqbal (TI): I'm quite happy. I wanted to get back to the rhythm I had before my injury so in the first match, I tried to stay at the crease as long as possible without focusing on the runs. I was batting comfortably but I got a bad decision; these things happen. The last game could have been a bigger innings but it wasn't to be. I was stroking the ball quite well until I got out.
DSS: How much have you recovered from the wrist injury?
TI: By God's grace, there is no problem now. I played for a year with the injury so when I batted for a while, my hand would go weak. But now I'm fine.
DSS: In terms of Test cricket, 2010 has been a great year for you…
TI: It has been great, to be honest. There were some innings like 85 and 86 against England at home and if I hadn't been run out on 103 at Lord's and turned those into bigger scores, it would have been a much special year. But yes, in terms of Test cricket, it has been my best year so far.
DSS: What was your favourite innings this year?
TI: In terms of memory, it was Lord's. I heard about the place and its history from my father and the moment I went inside the dressing-room I looked at the honours board and the balcony. Pete (the Lord's dressing-room attendant) told me that I would get a hundred after I made 53 in the first innings. When I reached 97, I was as nervous as I was in my debut game. But I had planned the celebration when I was in the 80s (laughs). That hundred made me very happy.
But if you consider from a batting point of view, it has to be the one at Old Trafford as it is the fastest and most difficult wicket in England. Funnily, Kevin Pietersen commented during my 86 in Chittagong that, "Cricket is so easy for you, right? You go to Old Trafford, then you will see." And I went on to get a hundred there, so it was really fantastic.
DSS: Did he tell you anything during the Manchester Test?
TI: I looked at him and I saw him clapping (after reaching the century).
DSS: Was anything said during your 151 against India?
TI: Nothing in particular, but I really didn't like Virender Sehwag's comments (calling Bangladesh 'ordinary'). A player like him should always encourage us, he's a role model. The hundred against India was also great because Junaed and I played well and we managed to take a slim lead.
DSS: Unlike Tests, you have not done that well in one-day cricket.
TI: Look at it this way: I have played almost the identical number of ODI and Test innings this year so you add five not-outs and my one-day average will go up to 33-35. I get few chances to stay not out but the times that I did get them, I wasn't capable to do so.
I always get a start, but you must remember that I was terrible in my first 20-25, playing just one or two good knocks. I think if I do very well in one series, I can get the average up to 33-34.
DSS: How did you manage to take it from 15 to 29?
TI: In the early days, I had only two shots -- dancing down the track and the cover drive. I was totally blocked on the leg-side. I worked a lot with Jamie (Siddons) and Salahuddin bhai and now, those weaknesses are turning into my strengths. I get runs now because I have more shots and I'm aware that I have to get better because in international cricket, they analyse and find everything out.
I practice very hard and I'm not worried if I don't perform. I am at peace with myself that I'm doing the right things in training.
DSS: How much has Jamie Siddons helped you?
TI: He has helped me quite a lot. He is the best batting coach I have ever come across. There's a reason why he scored so many runs, you know.
The most important thing is that, he gives the player a lot of time. I hardly ever hear the word 'no' from him.
DSS: You live near the Mirpur stadium, was that part of your plan?
TI: Look, a lot of the national cricketers can afford to live in Gulshan and Banani but I chose this area (moved here in December 2008) so that practice for me is just a 5-minute drive. If I had lived in Gulshan, for example, I would always think of the traffic when I wanted to have a hit during my off day.
DSS: Who has been your biggest influence in life?
TI: My father (Iqbal Khan). I cannot tell you in words how much he has supported me. It is sad that he never got to see my brother's (Nafis Iqbal) or my international career. But it was my father who, under 40 degrees heat, stood as umpire on a prosthetic leg, just to let me bat. I never scored much then, though.
I also thank my brother and uncle (former Bangladesh captain Akram Khan) wholeheartedly because of two things. My brother told me to play Premier League rather than First Division as my first season, and my uncle helped me a lot when Sonargaon Cricketers betrayed with me (in the 2006-07 season).
I was almost crying when I was left stranded near Eastern Plaza and when I called my uncle, he told me sign for Old DOHS. I somehow made it in the first eleven there and after scoring a lot, I scored a hundred against Scotland a few months before the 2007 World Cup.
DSS: You were a very popular among the DOHS players…
TI: I really loved that place, especially the Thursday biriyani. I usually get kicks to buy things and during that time, I bought a dog called Zaro. Funny thing is I was so scared of my own dog that I never got close to it (laughs). Whenever they left it in the open, I was the first one to run from it.
DSS: Did you ever try to imitate a player?
TI: I loved Sanath Jayasuriya a lot. He had these big forearms and I wanted to be like him, hit big sixes. I used to practice at home and imagine hitting those big ones.
DSS: Any thoughts on the World Cup?
TI: I want to play match-winning knocks for Bang-ladesh. Of course the target will be to reach the second phase and anything can happen from there.
I have been working hard, spending extra hours in the gym after the usual practice with the team and I want to be fit and strong for the tournament.