Bangladesh v England, 2nd Test, Dhaka, 1st day

Tamim's birthday bash

There was a hint of Virender Sehwag in the way Tamim Iqbal tore into England's attack and for a while they were helpless to stop him

Andrew Miller in Dhaka

March 20, 2010

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Tamim Iqbal decides against a second run, Bangladesh v England, 2nd Test, Dhaka, 1st day, March 20, 2010
'I am still trying to work out whether I should leave many balls or attack, but I think the way I am batting, this is my style. Sometimes it will look fantastic, sometimes it will look ugly' © Associated Press
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The first day of the Dhaka Test was Tamim Iqbal's 21st birthday, and with the poise, panache and sheer arrogance of youth, he elected to stage his coming-of-age party right there in the middle of the pitch at Mirpur. For a scintillating hour right from the start of play, none of England's bowlers had the foggiest how to deal with him - not even Graeme Swann, the only man who entered the contest with comparable levels of self-belief.

Not since Virender Sehwag battered his way to 83 from 68 balls on the fourth evening of India's historic run-chase in Chennai have England's bowlers been hit so hard and so often, and with such certainty of shot selection. Until he succumbed to a sweep on 85 from 71 balls, with five men back on the ropes and Alastair Cook back-pedalling like a rickshaw-wallah in a bottleneck, a century in a session was utterly at his mercy.

Sadly - both for his own sake and for that of his team - Tamim failed on this occasion, and by the close, Bangladesh's finest day of the series to date had lost some of its sheen thanks to a procession of late wickets and a familiar failure to convert solid starts into formidable finishes. Nevertheless, the faith in the team's advancement grows with passing performance, and even taking into account his century in the first ODI and his 86 at Chittagong, few performances snatched the plaudits quite like this one.

"The first thing was that I was feeling really well when I went to bat," said Tamim, who is clearly still young enough to embrace, rather than dread, each passing birthday. "I don't know why, but when I was about to face my first ball, I was feeling really well and from then it all started. I was seeing the ball nicely, I was moving my feet okay, and that's the most important thing for a batsman, I think."

However, Tamim did require one huge birthday-cake-sized slice of good fortune on 35, when Alastair Cook, who endured a torrid day in the field, dropped a sitter at mid-on off the bowling of Stuart Broad. Having earlier slashed a fast and furious chance through Paul Collingwood's fingertips at slip, he knew it was his day in every sense. "The first one I won't call that was a catch, because that was too high," he said. "But the second one was a gift. That's true, but it happens in cricket. I didn't tell him to drop it!"

Regardless of the slightly flighty approach to his innings, the manner of Tamim's dismissal - caught on the sweep while trying to work the ones and twos - was further confirmation that his natural game is to remain on the attack where possible. "Every batsman has a different game style," he said. "I am still trying to work out whether I should leave many balls or attack, but I think the way I am batting, this is my style. Sometimes it will look fantastic, sometimes it will look ugly. But I think this is the way I should continue."

The contrast between Tamim's approach to Swann, whom he bludgeoned for 37 runs from his first four overs, and Tredwell, who completed seven overs before his analysis reached double figures, was marked. "It was nothing personal [against Swann]," he said. "I was just taking my chances and I knew that he will give it some flight. So I was ready for it and every shot that I played it paid off.

"But they had five fielders wide when the debutant [Tredwell] came on to bowl," he added. "Normally this does not happen so early in Test cricket, but I knew it would have been very bad if I got out trying to hit big. For Swann, the fielders had been close so I took my chance, but I would have had to take a big risk against Tredwell, and this was only reason for me to slow down. There was no other reason."

However, regardless of the brief elation that Tamim's innings caused, by the close he was still some way short of satisfaction, after another day in which Bangladesh's best efforts fell just short of excellence. "Of course I am very disappointed," he said. "I think if I could play a big innings, we would have scored 400 runs. If you look at the scoreboard, me, Shakib, Riyad [Mahmudullah], we all were out after getting a start. It's good for one-day cricket maybe, but someone has to put on a good score in Test cricket."

Some time soon, however, you sense that person will be Tamim. He's only just entering full adulthood, after all.

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.

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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Andrew Miller Andrew Miller was saved from a life of drudgery in the City when his car caught fire on the way to an interview. He took this as a sign and fled to Pakistan where he witnessed England's historic victory in the twilight at Karachi (or thought he did, at any rate - it was too dark to tell). He then joined Wisden Online in 2001, and soon graduated from put-upon photocopier to a writer with a penchant for comment and cricket on the subcontinent. In addition to Pakistan, he has covered England tours in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, as well as the World Cup in the Caribbean in 2007
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