Tamim rues another missed chance
Tamim Iqbal rated his blistering 125 from 120 balls in the first ODI against England at Mirpur as "one of his best" performances, but admitted that his personal satisfaction had been tempered by his team's familiar failure to make the most of their opportunity.
After nine overs of the contest, having been asked to bat first, Bangladesh had rattled along to 63 for 0, with Tamim hurtling towards a 32-ball half-century. But a spate of cheap dismissals undermined their momentum, and Naeem Islam's late 25 was the next highest score as they were eventually restricted to 228 with 4.2 overs unused.
"We were going beautifully at the start, but we just kept losing wickets, and the guys who are in form, like Shakib [Al Hasan], Junaid [Siddique] and Mushfiq [Rahim] didn't make the big scores," said Tamim. "That was the main turning point. We really trust our team and we have been working really hard. I hope the mistakes we made in this game will not be repeated in the next."
Tamim came into the contest with a reputation to uphold, having starred for Bangladesh in both the Test and ODI arena in recent months. He produced a matchwinning 128 in the second innings at Kingstown in July, to set up a famous maiden overseas victory over West Indies, before shocking India with a blazing 151 in last month's second Test. But this was arguably his most commanding 50-over performance since his precocious 51 against India in the 2007 World Cup.
"I got two ODI hundreds before this one," he said. "One was against Ireland, the other against Zimbabwe. So to get a century against England, a proper Test nation, really feels good. But I think the best is yet to come. I am enjoying playing international cricket, I feel I have learned a lot of things from this innings, and that will help me for the future.
"I'm happy with my performance but it would have been better if we'd won the game," he added. "We started very well, but we made mistakes at crucial times, so we need to see that that doesn't happen in the next game. England is a very good side, very strong at batting and bowling, so we have to put our 100% effort and play our best cricket to beat them. I hope in the second or third ODI, we play the better cricket and win."
Although Tamim's reputation is as a formidable hitter, he has already shown a game-brain that sets him apart from his peers, and that was on display once again in this contest, as he reined himself in as the wickets started to tumble, and set himself to bat for as long as he could. In the end he lasted until the 43rd over of the innings, before walking across his stumps in a bid to beat fine leg, with only Nos. 10 and 11 for company.
"Cricket is not about an individual game, it is a team game," said Tamim. "So I need to follow the team rules also. When two wickets fell in quick succession I needed to put down my own game, and play according to the ball. That's what the plan is for Bangladesh cricket. We are working really hard on our game, and the way we are going and training, I hope in one or two years we will be a very tough opponent to beat."
That prospect is not entirely out of the question. Tamim himself turns 21 on March 20, and the core of the team is still in its international infancy, including the captain Shakib, who is a few days' shy of 23. "We are a young side, and an improving side," said Tamim. "If you count our average age, it is not more than 24. We have lots of cricket left in ourselves, and lots of years to play.
The major obstacle to Bangladesh's progress will be an exhaustion of patience, both domestically and internationally, but Tamim believes they are headed in the right direction. "The crowd always wants us to win, so it's tough because we always disappoint them," he said. "We know that, we know that very well, but we trust in our ability that we will achieve that thing that they want."
Alastair Cook, taking charge of England for the first time in a 50-over match, was both relieved and satisfied at the end of a tough contest, his contentment heightened by the fact that he had overcome a spirited challenge to record that all-important first victory.
"We know you have to take advantage of those first 10 overs as a batting side," said Cook. "That was the first time I've seen [Tamim] and he struck it really well. We'll need to have a look at him over the next 24 hours, and come up with plans that are better executed, but you can't take it away from how he played. We bowled some good balls at him and he hit them well. I was impressed how cleanly he hit them."
Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo. Go to http://twitter.com/miller_cricket to follow him on Twitter through the England tour of Bangladesh.