Mushfiqur Rahim was surprised to get the Man-of-the-Match award after Friday's first ODI against Pakistan. He had scored a century, that too the third fastest by a Bangladeshi batsman in an ODI, and taken a catch. He was also involved in Bangladesh's highest ODI partnership for any wicket with Tamim Iqbal. Still, Mushfiqur felt that it was Tamim's 132 which had more impact on Bangladesh's highest-ever score in an ODI of 329 for 6. However, the judges thought differently.
"I tried to remind him of one thing," Mushfiqur said of Tamim after Bangladesh's 79-run win on Friday. "He used to get out in the 50s, 60s and 70s. I told him he cannot go for the shots until the last five overs because a new batsman can't come and start hitting from the onset. He took calculative risks. I was very surprised to get the Man-of-the-Match award. He deserved it."
This was Tamim's first ODI hundred in two years. He had broken his Test century hoodoo in the series against Zimbabwe last year, after which he looked relieved. A knee injury hampered his World Cup preparation and he made one significant score in the tournament, ending it with 155 runs at an average of 25.66. Every low score was greeted by derision on social media. Internet trolls and memes vilified Tamim, while there was always the odd question through traditional media about his place in the team.
There was an understanding that given his run of low scores, he shouldn't have played the warm-up match in Fatullah. He made just nine, further denting his confidence on the eve of the match.
Yet Tamim struck back on Friday with his fifth ODI hundred, a match-winning one at that. The duo of Mushfiqur and Tamim added 178 runs in just 21.4 overs, completely changing the course of the game as Bangladesh were 67 for two when Mahmudullah fell at the end of the 20th over. By the time Tamim got out, Bangladesh were looking towards a 300-run score.
Tamim didn't come to the post-match press conference so Mushfiqur and Shakib Al Hasan had to field many questions related to Tamim. Shakib praised Tamim's effort and said that it was one of the best innings he had seen of the batsman.
"It was an extraordinary innings," Shakib said. "To be honest, he was under some pressure but his batting didn't show any nerve. It is definitely one of his best innings. The way him and Mushfiqur batted, it was the turning point in the game. I think Tamim played the way he usually plays."
Mushfiqur said that he enjoyed Tamim's celebration which included a gesture towards the stands for the amount of talk on him. He said that patience should be shown with Tamim, because even though he has been going through a lean trot Tamim's last big innings wasn't too long ago.
'I think it was easy to understand [his celebration]," Mushfiqur said. "There was a lot of talk about him in the last 4-5 months. I believe there are very few accomplished batsman in Bangladesh. He got out to good balls in the last few games. People get out to bad balls. A batsman can go through a bad time.
"There were many batsmen in the World Cup who didn't score more than 200 runs. He had one very important score in the World Cup. We couldn't have won that game against Scotland had he not done well in that game. If we lost that game, we probably wouldn't have made it to the quarterfinals. It is not entirely the media's fault. There will always be criticism. We don't need support in a good time, rather we need it in bad time. I think his celebration was great. I liked it. I hope Tamim will play more big innings in the future."