Tamim Iqbal May 13, 2012

'I wanted hair like Afridi's'

Tamim Iqbal talks about idolising Boom Boom, and rubbing Rubel up the wrong way

First time I met a hero
I was about seven or eight years old. Shahid Afridi had come play for Abahani Limited, a Dhaka club. Akram Khan, my uncle, had got Afridi to Bangladesh. I could not believe my eyes. I was too young and too shy to say anything to him. He was a heartthrob in Bangladesh and one of the most popular international cricketers after he had scored the fastest ODI century. And here he was, in front of me. I love his dark hair and I tried copying his hairstyle for a while, but it didn't take off. I started to want to hit as far as he hits, and thanks to him I can hit some long balls out of the field.

First notable sledge
It happened when Bangladesh shocked India in a group match in the 2007 World Cup in Port-of-Spain. We were chasing a small target. Munaf Patel was bowling his second over. The first five balls I had not been able to take any run. The final delivery, Munaf pitched it wide of off stump. I stepped out, swung my bat and the top edge went over third man. Munaf was unimpressed and said that I needed to start playing some proper shots. I felt I must be doing something good to get a good international bowler giving me some verbal treatment. I felt good.

First time I took a bowler for granted
Again, this happened in the 2007 World Cup. After my match-winning half-century against India, I was confident. Perhaps, a bit over-confident, as I would find out against Bermuda in another group match. I thought I had faced better bowlers, so I blindly charged Saleem Mukuddem, a medium-fast bowler. I thought I would put him in his place. I stepped out and hit as hard as I could, but the top edge flew over point and third man charged in and took a brilliant catch. It taught me that you can never take anyone for granted in international cricket.

First dressing-down from a coach
It was a domestic first-class match for Chittagong against Sylhet. We had batted on the first day. The next morning I woke up late, at 9am. I drove desperately through the crowded streets of Chittagong to get to the ground, but by the time I got there, the first over had already been bowled. The Chittagong coach, Minhazul Abedin, looked at me in disbelief. I pretended I had been sick overnight, but I didn't get away: after I spent the rest of the day fielding, I was asked to run 20 laps for my mistake.

First time I batted right-handed
Rubel Hossain, the Bangladesh fast bowler, and I have always had verbal duels. He would say how he would easily get me out in the first over he bowled, and I would promise him I would thrash him out of the ground. In 2009 I was playing for Abahani Limited against Gazi Tank, Rubel's team. I had scored 160 and my confidence was high, so I decided the time was ripe to silence Rubel. I played a couple of balls right-handed just to surprise him. I was scared inside as he bowls at speeds of 140kph. I was lucky to escape unhurt!

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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