Tamim keen to explore fast scoring in anchor’s fabric

Bangladesh opener Tamim Iqbal has just returned from a very successful tour of the West Indies.

The team rallied around well after suffering an embarrassing Test series defeat at the start of the tour to win the ODI and T20I series. At the forefront of this comeback was Tamim, who scored two hundreds and a fifty in the ODI series to bag the Man of the series award and then hit a fifty during the T20I series too, to begin the resurrection of Bangladesh’s image in the shortest format. Ahead of the Asia Cup, the prolific southpaw has once again skipped the festivities at home and arrived for the training session before the actual resumption of the camp on August 27.

In an exclusive chat with Cricbuzz, the opening batsman discusses about the changes he’s bringing into his game, the lacunae in the team, goals for the Asia Cup and more.


You had skipped the Eid celebrations ahead of the West Indies tour and now again, you have cut short your stay to arrive at the training facilities before the actual resumption date. What’s the specific thing you’re working on right now?

I believe you should work the most when you are having good form in the middle because it is difficult to keep the motivation when you are going through a low phase. I always believe that I can’t guarantee success and scoring runs but I can prepare myself hundred percent, [and] then the job gets easier. Even if I fail despite preparing myself then I can tell myself that I have tried my best but it didn’t happen. It’s important to prepare well to play well and that’s the reason of my extra work.

I think the training [of facing fuller lengths] is more need based. It was true that we focused on different areas during the session [of facing short balls] we had before the series against West Indies and now we are focusing on different aspects. You must take into consideration what kind of wickets you are expected to get and who will be your opponents and design the session accordingly.

While most openers around the world have a strike rate of close to 100 or above, yours is under 80. Do you think that could serve as a disadvantage keeping in mind the kind of [flat] wickets on offer these days?

Most of the times we play in Mirpur or other home grounds. The fast-scoring thing is difficult here at times. This is the only ground where you can still defend 260-270, whereas such score isn’t enough in many places across the world.

Another thing is the role I have to play – to be the anchor of the team. I try to play safely and also maintain a good strike rate and these are the things that I am working on right now. It won’t happen overnight. If I become successful at doing that, it will be more beneficial for the team. If you can take your strike rate to 86 or 87, things are even better.

Some of the best batsmen in the world right now, like Virat Kohli, they bat at a strike rate of 90, which is fantastic. To take my strike rate over 80 or 85, there are some things I need to work on. I have to improve myself by not sacrificing what I am doing for the team. If I become 10-15 per cent better as a batsman, all these things will be taken care of. The way I am batting now is very different from how I used to bat. Through the years, through experience you adjust some things. At the same time, you need to understand the role that the team gives you.

[My] role [in the team] has changed over the course of time. Yes, I want to give myself the first twenty balls, except for T20Is. When I play at least 20-30 balls, my chances of scoring runs is higher. That’s the change I’ve brought into my game in the last three-four years. I give myself the first 20 balls, and I see where I am at and take it on.

There has been a musical chair policy for your opening partner in the limited-overs format for Bangladesh. With less than a year to go, how do you think can Bangladesh find a solution?

What happens [in a partnership] is one individual is given the role of anchoring the innings and the other one takes up the responsibility of clearing the ropes. Now, if a younger player is batting with me, it is not fair from my end to go and tell him to hit the ball because new players want to settle at the international level. But if you have someone who’s settled in and understands his role, then your job is to take on the bowlers and make sure that there’s not much pressure on him. If such opening partnerships are made, it becomes beneficial for the team. I can’t specifically name any player but I’ve batted a lot with Soumya [Sarkar] in the last two-three years. He was very good at taking the pressure off me.

Why has the Bangladesh Premier League failed to produce enough players for the national team?

Most of the overseas players [in the BPL] are top-order batsmen. They usually occupy the batting positions from one to four. So it becomes a lot difficult for us. When there were five overseas cricketers, the problem was severe but now that is not the case

When you score against an overseas bowler, it boosts your confidence if you have the ability to hit him. When you face the same bowler while playing for the national team, knowing you’ve hit him for a four or a six or two sixes in an over, then you have [a] different kind of confidence. IPL is doing that beautifully. Their [India’s] players are scoring against the renowned international bowlers, so when they go to the international arena and see someone against whom they’ve batted successfully, it creates a huge difference.

How do you see your team’s chances in the upcoming Asia Cup?

In Asia Cup, you have two games to qualify for the next round. If you win one and lose the other, you never know where you might end up. My focus is on the first two games. We are capable and we should qualify [for the Super Four]. And in the second round [Super Four], you have [to] anyway play your best game because you will be facing the best teams.

We definitely have a good chance. We have done well in the last two [three] Asia Cups. We were in the finals twice. We should do well considering what we’ve done in the West Indies. We are on a good run in ODIs. This is the format we’re most comfortable in. It depends on how many boxes you’ve ticked on the day [of the match]. If you’ve ticked the maximum of the boxes then you definitely have a good chance.

Why has Bangladesh failed to tackle the wristspinners? Fronting up against Rashid Khan will be one of the major challenges in the Asia Cup…

If you don’t practice, if you don’t know, then you’re normally going to struggle. If all our bowlers were bowling at 125 [kmph] and we had to face 145 in international cricket – which was the case 10 years ago – then we would struggle. But we have two to three bowlers who can click 135 or close to 140 now, and it has helped us getting habituated and we don’t feel much difference when we go into international cricket.

Same is the case with legspinners. We don’t have enough legspinners in the country. So, we don’t have enough experience of playing leg spin.

ODIs are different than T20Is. However, his [Rashid’s] bowling won’t change and he will be hard to face, no doubt about that. But because you have more time in ODIs, I think you can see it off against one specific bowler.

At the same time, if we intend to see him off, or tear him apart, both conceptions are wrong. He is a good bowler but that doesn’t mean that he won’t bowl me a bad ball. All the best bowlers in the world bowl badly at times. So we’ll have to wait for that and try to hit a boundary whenever we get a bad ball or rotate the strike. The mindset of not hitting him or trying to hit everything is not an ideal plan.

How is Bangladesh’s T20 cricket coming along? The talk of building a Bangladeshi brand of cricket had emerged earlier this year during the Nidahas Trophy in Sri Lanka…

There was always a question mark on us in this format. By beating the world champions [Windies], we’ve taken a step forward. That doesn’t mean that we’ve become a much better team. But doing well against a champion team has driven us away from the question mark. Now we know that we don’t need game-changers like Chris Gayle and Andre Russell, one can still win games by playing smart cricket in T20Is.

T20 is not about just hitting sixes and fours. If you rotate the strike and hit a boundary once in a while, then there’s a way you can still win it. I’ve told it recently that we’ve to develop the ‘Bangladesh brand’ of cricket, which will suit us, rather than looking at what England or West Indies are doing.


Source: Ittefaq.

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