<
>

'I want to score 10,000 runs in either format'

"My goal was to average 50-plus in Tests and ODIs [in 2015], which I almost did" AFP

Comparing two productive years may be a bit unfair, but do you still see a difference between 2010 and 2015?
The year 2010 was a great one for me. In 2015, I knew what I was trying to achieve. I planned and I achieved. I wanted to score 1000 runs in all formats in 2015. My goal was to average 50-plus in Tests and ODIs, which I almost did. It was a more pleasing year, as a result.

Your masterpiece was the double-hundred in Khulna against Pakistan last year, where you also had a record-breaking opening partnership with Imrul Kayes. Bangladesh were in big trouble when you two went out to bat in the second innings.
After Pakistan declared on 628, we knew it was going to be really hard for us to save that Test match. Even if it was the best wicket in the world, it would be hard. Imrul asked me, "What's the plan?" I said, "We will take them on."

It was the only way to get out of it. We can't defend, defend, defend and survive. We have to score runs and take them on. We played our shots and it was going to plan. When we reached 150 for no loss, we started to believe. I thought, "Shit, everything is in our control. If we keep playing our way, nobody can take this away from us." We would have to give it away.

After I reached my hundred, I told Imrul that I had done my part. The only thing in my mind was to save the game. I started to think about my double-hundred. I was attacking constantly. There were times when we faced difficulties against a particular bowler. He asked me, "Can you handle him?" I did. I got very nervous in the last over of the day. I went to him and said, "Can you handle this over, by not taking a single?" So he helped me.

There were a lot of emotions and stories in that partnership. Imrul was also keeping wicket though he wasn't a [regular] keeper, and he did so for a long time in that game. We had a very good ODI series where I scored two hundreds. Imrul came in and saw a team high on confidence.

There were also two hundreds in the ODI series against Pakistan.
The first ODI hundred was more important for me because I was struggling leading up to the series. The World Cup wasn't my best tournament. There was a lot of talk about my selection. After getting a hundred, I was relaxed. Before the hundred, I was too focused on scoring runs.

So this innings helped me relax and it led to the double-hundred. We were happy as a team, which enabled us to achieve a lot of things.

One of those happy moments was batting with Soumya Sarkar in the third ODI against Pakistan. You were smiling and laughing during that partnership.
We had already won the series 2-0 and we knew we were going to win that game as well. We were in the middle of a big partnership. When you face this situation, you laugh and joke in the middle. We get into these situations often in the Dhaka Premier League but we don't get this at the international level all the time. When we were getting the results, we said, why not? And I must say that he was also playing the sort of innings that would have made anyone else do what I was doing.

We are also seeing glimpses of the 2007 Tamim Iqbal these days.
When you are very confident about your batting, there will be a year or two when you will score runs with a couple of shots. Then the next year, you will get it with a different shot.

The one-legged pull through square leg is also back. Is it a conscious shot or did you pick it up from someone?
There are a few shots that stay with you forever. It is just a matter of time when it comes out. I didn't want to follow anyone. It comes naturally to me. I know a lot of West Indian players do it, but I just do it out of instinct.

Charging at the bowlers is also something you did regularly in 2007, and now again over the last year or so.
When you are charging a bowler, they start to think about you. When you are in a defensive mood, you think about that bowler. It gives him the edge but when he is thinking about you, it gives you the edge.

You are a mentor of sorts to many of your younger team-mates. They say you are very welcoming and even in your worst days you hang out with them.
It is true that people look up to me, but I have to keep performing in the same way. My responsibility is to work even harder and achieve new things. In spite of my form, people in the dressing room like me. It could be how I behave with them. I feel I am lucky to be liked so much.

You have also possibly been at your fittest over the last 18 months. Has that made you a better batsman?
Fitness won't make you score hundreds, skills will. But fitness will make you play for longer. It is more important for the senior players, because I can't really be a Sabbir Rahman. I can be someone who can be very fit within my limitations. It would give me an extra year in international cricket.

Is there a number in mind?
I want to play for another six years. I really want to score 10,000 runs in either format. In Tests it is looking impossible, but if I play another 150 ODIs really well, it is possible.

Bangladesh play next against England in October…
After such a great season, we are not playing for eight months. It would definitely hamper us. People should be more interested in playing against us, but instead we are sitting on the sidelines. We don't know how we are going to play. There's no team in the world apart from Zimbabwe which sits out for so long between matches.

I could have understood it if we were playing like we did five years ago when our results were predictable, but after we have been performing so well they [other teams] don't want to play us. Take any top team and tell them to sit for eight months. You will see how they perform. They won't play the way they were playing.