In the absence of two of their most experienced batsmen in Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim due to injury, all eyes were on Tamim Iqbal ahead of the three-Test series against New Zealand in the Kiwis' backyard. The left-hander showed the way by scoring a battling yet speedy hundred in the first innings and following it with 74 in the second dig, in the process inspiring the Tigers to meet a tough situation head on, although they eventually lost the first Test by an innings and 52 runs yesterday. The 29-year-old spoke to The Daily Star's Mazhar Uddin at the team hotel in Hamilton about various aspects of his batting and Bangladesh's chances in the series. The following are excerpts of the exclusive interview:
The Daily Star (TDS): You always said that you set a high standard for yourself. After a disappointing ODI series, how challenging was it for you start fresh in the Tests?
Tamim Iqbal (TI): To be honest I was very disappointed in the way my ODI series went as I had high hopes and wanted to do well, but unfortunately I didn't. Test cricket is a totally different ball game and what I tried was to be in a positive mindset and, Alhamdulillah, the first Test went well personally but not as a team. Yes, I have scored a hundred and a seventy but it only feels good on the day but if you think about it after six months, the result will show that we lost the game. We do have some positives -- three of us scored hundreds and the way we batted in the second innings. If we could have done the same in the first innings, things would have been different.
TDS: As a batsman coming from a bad patch in ODIs what did you do differently?
TI: Test matches were a bit challenging for me as I am playing this format after a long time -- I played my last Test against West Indies in August last year. The practice game I played here helped. I have almost played 12 years of international cricket and I think that I have learned how to turn the switch on and off, but at times things won't go as you want.
TDS: You have made a few adjustments to your batting, especially when facing Neil Wagner. Was that pre-planned or a last-minute adjustment?
TI: It was a very last-moment adjustment as normally I don't like to change a lot, especially in my batting. But I knew that they will attack us the way they did and my thinking behind all the movement I did in both innings was to do something different so that they also start to guess what I was doing. It paid off a number of times but it backfired too in the second innings. That's how it goes as I know what I was trying to do. The most important thing is that I am trying to do something different to score runs because sometimes it becomes easier for the bowlers to target you if you follow the same pattern.
TDS: How challenging was it to face a barrage of bouncers as well as the chatter from Wagner?
TI: There will be few words on the field in international cricket and, honestly speaking, it doesn't bother me. Talking about facing bouncers, it is difficult as nobody likes to face bouncers but you are playing for your country... it's easy to give up but hard to stay there and do all the hard work. Even [Mahmudullah] Riyad bhai and Soumya [Sarkar] took the ball to the body -- Soumya even got hit on his helmet. It is also very new for us but we are trying to adapt to this.
TDS: Any regrets for missing out on back-to-back hundreds?
TI: There is no end to regrets as even when you score a hundred you want to score more. When you are satisfied, it's a problem. Obviously, the way I was batting, I would love to have scored another hundred in the second innings but it was a bit unfortunate the way I got out. But I hope I will try to make it count in the next two Tests.
TDS: Which hundred satisfied you personally?
TI: If I talk about my best Test hundred I would probably say my century against England in Dhaka  because Bangladesh won that match. If you asked this question five-six years ago I would have said something different.
TDS: Is it possible that Bangladesh can win a Test match in New Zealand?
TI: If you don't believe, there is no point in playing as then we will only participate. Yes, we all know it's difficult but not impossible. You saw what Sri Lanka did against South Africa -- nobody expected them to win a series there but they did. We have a young team with a very young bowling attack, but cricket is a funny game and anything can happen.