ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / Features
Bangladesh v England, World Cup 2011, Group B, Chittagong
Contrasting talismen prepare for battle
Andrew Strauss and Tamim Iqbal are as different as two characters and batsmen can be
Sidharth Monga in Chittagong
March 10, 2011
Andrew Strauss and Tamim Iqbal are as different as two characters and batsmen can be. Strauss, always well prepared, almost general-like, relies on taking emotion out of it when he goes out to bat or lead the side. He doesn't force you to the edge of your seats; in fact he makes you sit back further, his presence is reassuring. Tamim is not that easy on the watcher. He relies on the eye and the adrenalin. "Watch me," he seems to say every time he goes to bat. He is the loudest presence in team gatherings, be it nets sessions or matches or off the field. He is cool with the attention he gets; he knows he deserves it.
In another world, they could perhaps have been perfectly complementing opening partners; on Friday they remain crucial to their own sides' fortunes in their won different way. The two have one thing in common, though. They love playing each other. Strauss averages 99 in seven ODIs against Bangladesh at a strike-rate of 106, which are both a massive improvement on his overall statistics, 36 and 81 respectively. Two of his three 150-plus scores have come against them. In ODIs, Tamim's figures go up, not that drastically: he averages 32 and strikes at 105 runs per 100 balls against England, as opposed to 30 and 80 respectively. It is still a considerable show of affection for the English attack, especially when you see his Test record against England, an average of 63 and two of his four hundreds.
It is hardly any surprise, though, that Strauss should do well against Bangladesh. Their attack is based more on containment getting wickets than wickets getting containment. For accumulators, for workers of singles, for batsmen who don't panic or get overly restless after four-five low-scoring overs, this attack doesn't pose that much of a challenge. Plus his being a left-hand batsman negates Bangladesh's left-arm spinner a bit, something Strauss himself acknowledges.
On the other hand, Tamim preys on unsettled bowlers. And England, skilful as their attack might be, are not the most consistent bowling unit. They are a bit like Indian attack who are irresistible when they are good, but uninspiring when bad. Tamim takes his chances, and tries to lay into them early. In Tests, more than in ODIs, it has worked, except that the batsmen following him haven't made full use of the starts Tamim has given them against England.
In the week after the embarrassment against West Indies, Bangladesh - the team and the country - have looked to Tamim even more than they usually do. It's not always just the runs that he scores. When Tamim does well, he lifts the whole team up. The rest of the batsmen become more confident when he does well.
And in the last week, Tamim seems to have taken the extra responsibility to try and bring the team out of the shock of 58 all out. Two days ago, he took them all out to play golf and fish, away from the media attention, away from former players' criticism, away from thinking about the disaster last week. He has been cheerful at the nets sessions, and has had the air of a man who knows he has the ability to bring a turnaround.
"Very dangerous player," Strauss says of Tamim. "We know clearly he takes the game to the opposition. He has done well against England in the past. I think we know a little bit more about him as a player now, but we are going to have to make sure we get our plans right straightaway from ball one, otherwise he will get off and running."
Strauss himself doesn't make too much of his record against Bangladesh, mostly because "I haven't played against them in Bangladesh, so that's going to be a different scenario for me". Apart from that, Strauss also knows his side hasn't been too good with banana peels this tournament. He helped them out after the stumble against Netherlands, but Ireland proved to be too slippery. On the evidence of the matches so far, Strauss knows his side can lose to Bangladesh, more so now that they are without Kevin Pietersen and Stuart Broad.
Strauss has decided on his opening partner, but is keeping his cards close to his chest. What is not a secret is that Strauss will want to do the job himself, add to his dominance of Bangladesh, and just make sure there are no more stutters before they qualify for the quarter-finals. As the captain of the side, he will also have to plan how to keep Tamim quiet.
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