Bangladesh's batting pioneers in longevity
When it is a two-man club, the exclusivity creates a mutual admiration society. Mushfiqur Rahim and Tamim Iqbal are Bangladesh's only double-centurions in Tests and have a lot of praise for each other.
Considering that there have been 340 200-plus individual innings in Test history, two is only a drop in the ocean. Pakistan have 38 such scores in their history. Still, it is a worthy subject in Bangladesh and particularly among the duo who are now the flag-bearers of long innings in the country.
After his 206 in Khulna helped Bangladesh draw a Test against Pakistan for the first time, Tamim said that it would be Mushfiqur who would surpass his 206. "I think it will be broken in the next 12 months. Mushfiqur is most likely to break it. He is our best batsman. I know that he is very happy about my score. He helped me through tough times," Tamim said.
To which Mushfiqur offered a smile, and some praise, ahead of the second and final Test in Dhaka. "That's his personal opinion. I will try to play a big innings,"Mushfiqur said. "Tamim's batting reflects how much he is in form. The way many of our batsmen are playing, I think any of them can break this score. Everyone's individual game is now helping the team."
Tamim now holds Bangladesh's highest scores in all three formats: 206 in Tests, 154 in ODIs and 88* in T20s. His two centuries and fifty in the ODI series against Pakistan gave him the most runs (312) by a Bangladesh batsman in a bilateral ODI series. He is now 149 runs short of the Bangladesh record for most runs in a Test series, currently held by Habibul Bashar (379 runs against Pakistan in 2003).
But it wasn't as rosy for Tamim, even as recently as the World Cup. There he averaged 25-plus in six innings with just one significant score, the 95 against Scotland.
Before his twin centuries against Zimbabwe last year, he was going through a prolonged bad patch, his fifty against West Indies in Basseterre in September 2014 being his first 50-plus score after 17 innings across formats. There were calls for his axing. But it bothered him no ends, and after he had struck his second century in the ODIs against Pakistan, he spoke at length about the hurt he felt.
Mushfiqur has been arguably Bangladesh's first batsman to endure a consistent form. Since the 2011 World Cup, after his place was called into question, Mushfiqur has risen to be the team's highest scorer in all formats. He is now 30 short of 4,000 runs. There is constancy in Mushfiqur's work with the bat.
Tamim can take a tip or two from Mushfiqur's turnaround. Tamim has had bursts of form since his debut in 2007. But since the ODI series against Pakistan, he has been able to extend that run. It could have come through the constant questioning of his place in the team, just like with Mushfiqur.
Both batsmen, however, are carrying injuries into the second Test in Dhaka. Mushfiqur hurt his right ring finger while Tamim was struck on his foot by Junaid Khan in the second innings. But Mushfiqur said that both were going to play.
"Neither I nor Tamim have fractures. But we are also not 100% fit, but then we have to play," Mushfiqur said. "Tamim is in form and there isn't any reason for him not to play. There is some pain, but we will prepare ourselves. I kept wicket today and felt good. I will also do it a bit before the warm-up tomorrow because Test cricket is not easy and I have to do it for five days if I am to handle the job well. I may do it 100%, but whatever I can I will try to help the team with that."
The batting of Tamim and Mushfiqur is what everyone will come to see at the Shere Bangla National Stadium. Never before have two batsmen been in such good form for Bangladesh.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84