Bangladesh v West Indies, 1st Test, Mirpur, 3rd day

Naeem Islam remodels himself for success

Naeem Islam is a transformed batsman from what he was three years ago, and the changes he has made seem to be paying off richly

Mohammad Isam in Mirpur

November 15, 2012

Comments: 11 | Text size: A | A

Naeem Islam celebrates his century, Bangladesh v West Indies, 1st Test, Mirpur, 3rd day, November 15, 2012
It has been a long, tough journey for Naeem Islam to get to where he is today, as was evidenced by his emotional outburst when he completed his maiden Test ton © Associated Press
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Naeem Islam has completed the shift from being a bit-and-pieces allrounder to a top-order batsman with a maiden Test hundred against West Indies on the third day in Mirpur. He is now only the second Bangladesh batsman after Aminul Islam to score a hundred at No. 4, a position which couldn't be filled adequately by 16 different batsmen.

Naeem's innings was a revamped version of his batting, and the revamping process had begun two seasons ago; he has grabbed every opportunity since to make the transformation successful. The result of all that work was the gritty 108 off 255 balls, which kept him at the crease for nearly six hours. A clip to the fine-leg boundary in the 88th over took him to the three-figure mark, and was followed by a shout, a fist pump, some tears, a hug and an instantly flashed smile towards the dressing-room.

"I got a little emotional there," Naeem told ESPNcricinfo. "It was an innings that took some time coming. Over the last year I have worked hard on my batting, corrected a few shots. I spent a lot of time in the nets and, of course, the matches for Bangladesh A, in the Dhaka Premier League [the club one-day tournament] and the National Criket League [the domestic first-class competition] helped me become a better batsman."

Naeem broke through into the first-class scene in 2004, after winning the Plate trophy in the Under-19 World Cup that same year. Over the next four seasons, he made 2,178 runs at an average of almost 37 for Rajshahi, including four centuries. The runs earned him a place in the Bangladesh side, lower down the order, and three years ago to the day he was an altogether different batsman. On November 13, 2009, he struck six sixes in an over during a domestic league match at the Shere Bangla National Stadium (which was a first time by a Bangladesh player at any level). That came a week after he blitzed Zimbabwe in a one-wicket win. These knocks defined him as a lower-order hitter and the limited opportunities he got jeopardised his place in national side. Soon he was cast aside for long periods, particularly in Test cricket where he never batted above No. 7.

Now, in his first innings at this new position, Naeem calmly saw out the second evening without any more damage after Tamim Iqbal's dismissal. On the third morning, Naeem's plan was to control the innings, and while he went about executing that plan, he added some much-needed solidity to Bangladesh's first innings. His partnership with Shakib grew into a Bangladesh record for the fourth-wicket, and when he added 76 runs for the fifth wicket with Mushfiqur Rahim, the pair took the team past the dreaded follow-on mark.

 
 
"I try to follow a certain game plan: select only a few shots and try to execute those properly. I always try to play strokes to the deliveries in my zone and avoid anything otherwise." Naeem Islam on his batting
 

"I kept telling myself not to play any silly shots," Naeem said. "This is what I have done for the last two years - keep telling myself to be disciplined at the crease. It has certainly helped me bat long.

"I try to follow a certain game plan: select only a few shots and try to execute those properly. I always try to play strokes to the deliveries in my zone and avoid anything otherwise."

He revealed how chief selector Akram Khan had sounded him out two months ago for a possible call-up, at this position, for the West Indies Tests. "When we were playing against the West Indies High Performance team, Akram bhai told me to bat at No. 4 in the NCL. At that point of time I felt that if I could perform in the NCL, I would have a chance in the senior team. I prepared well, scoring two hundreds, so I think I made my case stronger."

Having made a mark on the big stage, Naeem is not looking too far ahead: "The first match of a series is always important. I have started well, so I want to build on this. It actually becomes a lot easier to execute your plans after you have had some success."

If Naeem can repeat this performance for Bangladesh, it will go a long way in helping them take advantage of Tamim's early shows of aggression and allowing the likes of Shakib and Mushfiqur express themselves. And his story could well be one to follow for players who are reluctant to make adjustments even during the course of a single innings.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's correspondent in Bangladesh

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by The_Ashes on (November 18, 2012, 14:54 GMT)

He has the talent just needed to work on his batting a bit more and be patients. But I wonder if he'll be successful in ODIs again? can't really see it.

Posted by   on (November 16, 2012, 11:58 GMT)

anyway he is going to crumble in the following matches and will lose his place to another one who will be an another failure sooner just like other bangla greats.........

Posted by Dreamscrapper on (November 16, 2012, 11:40 GMT)

WELL DONE, SIR! SUCH TEMPERAMENT IS SEEN FOR THE FIRST TIME AFTER A LONG TIME IN BANGLADESH TEST HISTORY! KEEP IT UP AND SURELY YOU'LL REACH THE 200 RUN FEAT! ALL THE BEST!!

Posted by British_North_America on (November 16, 2012, 11:29 GMT)

I am getting tired of reports on Bangladesh only from Mohammad Isam.Cricinfo please change hand for a variation.

Posted by   on (November 16, 2012, 6:27 GMT)

We have to work hard to take 10 WINDIES wickets..They are not India.

Posted by sfarazi on (November 16, 2012, 5:52 GMT)

Good knock from Naeem and a brilliant all round performance from everyone! This is the kind of performance that we need to give consistently and best of luck to Bangladesh :)

Posted by   on (November 16, 2012, 3:28 GMT)

I just hope this doesn't become a single day's success.

Posted by Dashgar on (November 16, 2012, 0:14 GMT)

Excellent innings. Could develop into the Bangladesh Dravid at number 3 or 4. They've always had flashy players who look good here and there but a solid and slightly dour top order anchor is exactly what their batting order needs

Posted by   on (November 15, 2012, 20:23 GMT)

I'm really happy for Naeem always knew he was a talented player and questioned why he use to bat so down lower down the order given his quality. Back then I said to myself had he been given the right kind of training and guidance in his batting then he'll become a much better batsman.

Posted by Anwaruzz on (November 15, 2012, 20:08 GMT)

BUT A 100 IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH. YOU SHUD NOT HV LOST YR CONCERNTRATN AFTR YR 100. THINK OF LARA'S 300S AND 400. TRY TO B HALF OF HIM. IT CN BE ACHIEVED, IF YOU CAN SCORE A 100 IN TEST, U R GOOD ENOUGH AND SURELY CN SCORE 200 !! WHY NOT ?? AFTER 100 THINK U JUST WENT TO BAT !!

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