Bangladesh star batsman Tamim Iqbal was close to completing his 10th Test ton, fell 10 runs short of the target in the second session of the first Test against Sri Lanka at Kandy today.
Tamim played the Lankan bowling with ease, driving on the up and cutting loose on the backfoot whenever width was on the offer. Having found so much time to play his shots, helped by the Sri Lankan bowlers often erring in line and length, Tamim reached 90 off 100 deliveries, laced with 15 fours.
His dismissal had no similarity to the rest of his innings, as he gave easy catching practice to the lone slip fielder off Vishwa Fernando, to become the left-arm pacer's second victim of the day. Tamim merely guided a delivery outside the off stump that could have easily been left alone, perhaps a reminder that batting out there had been particularly easy for the left-hander and the resultant loss of focus brought out a nonchalant and unwise shot.
Najmul Hossain Shanto was batting on 51 at the other end when Tamim departed after the pair had added 144 runs for the second wicket with Tigers on 152 for 2. Although Tamim missed out on a ton, he did scale new heights during his knock, becoming Bangladesh's highest scorer in Test format, overtaking Mushfiqur Rahim.
Tamim's current run tally stands at 4598 in 63 innings, at an average of 38.63. Mushfiqur, who is yet to take his turn with the bat during the Bangladesh innings, could take over Tamim again. The right-hander Mushfiqur has 4537 runs in Tests from 73 innings at an average of 36.58.
The Tigers were firmly on top despite the loss of Tamim as Najmul went on to eclipse his career-best score of 71 he struck against Zimbabwe last year. Bangladesh reached 200 for two wickets at tea with Najmul unbeaten on 78 from 172 deliveries, his innings laced with 10 fours and a six. Captain Mominul Haque was unbeaten on 21 at the other end.