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Tamim Iqbal, Mominul Haque and Shakib Al Hasan were happy to play away from their body whenever the bowlers offered any width, and it proved their undoing
Mohammad Isam in Mirpur
October 21, 2013
There is usually a predictable winner in the battle between a left-hand batsman playing with an angled bat and a fielding captain persisting with attacking fields behind point. Despite the number of runs Bangladesh scored in that region on the first day of the second Test, the New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum came out on top.
Tamim Iqbal, Mominul Haque and Shakib Al Hasan were happy to play away from their body whenever the bowlers offered width. Nearly half of Tamim's 17 boundaries came between the wicketkeeper and point. Three of Mominul's eight boundaries, and all three of Shakib's fours came in that region.
When the ball was too short outside off stump from New Zealand's three left-arm quicks, they were deservedly punished. When it was fuller but still wide, Mominul's used his wrists to send the ball to the boundary. And even when it was much fuller, Tamim wasn't letting scoring opportunities go. The ball would hit the edge and find its way through the slips.
During this period, McCullum moved his slip fielders around: sometimes four were standing close together, sometimes they were spread wider, and at others there was only a slip and a gully. There was a yawning gap between the wicketkeeper and gully at times too, while McCullum dabbled with pairs of gullys, short covers and short midwickets.
Tamim might have been encouraged by the two lives he got early in his innings. BJ Watling and Ross Taylor let him off behind the wicket on 5 and 10. Other batsmen may have played more cautiously after those reprieves, but not Tamim. To go from 70 to 86, Tamim drove airily past point, bludgeoned a cover drive and twice edged the ball past the lone slip and gully.
It was his highest Test score since his last century in June 2010, and another ton was approaching. His first boundary in the nineties was a dab past the slip fielder, but off the next ball, McCullum finally had his man.
Tamim was cramped for room by the bustling Neil Wagner, but he had managed to squeeze the ball out by using his bat like a ramp. Kane Williamson leaped and took the catch. It was heart-breaking for Tamim, but there was no one else responsible but the batsman himself. His game is one of high stakes: survive and thrive, or fail.
Tamim's shot wasn't as bad as the one played by a well-set Mominul. Tamim had nearly got the ball past Williamson, who had to cover some distance to take the catch. Mominul, on the other hand, gifted his wicket away to Corey Anderson, who bowled a delivery that was short and wide.
Mominul is the calmest batsmen among the hot heads in the Bangladesh line-up. The best treatment for Anderson's delivery would have been to leave it alone but rather than bat his way, Mominul decided to cash in, but perished.
While it is a new lesson for Mominul, Tamim hasn't learned from several similar lessons over a Test career that has spanned nearly six years. He has managed five half-centuries in 22 innings since his 108 in Manchester in 2010. Against West Indies in 2011, it was a slog sweep on 52 and a wild charge on 83 that led to his dismissals. Against the same team the following year, it was an absurd pull to mid-on. Against Sri Lanka earlier this year, Tamim tried to chop a length ball that was not there to be cut. On most of those occasions, his dismissal hindered Bangladesh's progress.
Playing it his way has been Tamim's mantra. He has had moderate success in international cricket so far, but his method has stopped him from scoring a Test hundred for over three years now. He has only one more Test innings in 2013. For someone like Mominul, Tamim's stunted growth in Test cricket should be a strong message not to take anything for granted. Be it talent or a wide, short ball way outside off stump.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets hereFeeds: Mohammad Isam
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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