Tamim Iqbal's pursuit of excellence

He became the first batsman from Bangladesh to score 1000 Test runs in South Africa, England, New Zealand and Australia

Tamim Iqbal is airborne while working one square off the wicket  •  Getty Images

Tamim Iqbal is airborne while working one square off the wicket  •  Getty Images

Like any batsman on a pitch full of grass and with cloudy overhead conditions, Tamim Iqbal mistimed some of his drives. Swing bowlers Trent Boult and Tim Southee got a few deliveries to nip off the lush green surface, squaring the left-hander up. Speedsters Mark Henry bowled with searing pace while Neil Wagner got his bouncers going too.
Like many of the players in both teams, Tamim was stuck in a hotel in central Wellington for the past two days, waiting anxiously for the rain to end. He checked his weather app several times but it was never good news.
Like many international cricketers, Tamim has developed a strict and elaborate pre-match routine over the years (which includes a couple of superstitions) and needs precise information to help ensure nothing goes out of hand.
Like all openers, Tamim is always keen to get into the middle. But he hates having to start batting in the last hour of the day's play. So, like the other batsmen in this game who had a look at the Basin Reserve pitch on the second day, it didn't bother him too much that play was called off around 4pm.
Like a top-quality batsman, Tamim took on the challenge of what commentator Scott Styris described as the "green monster" on the third morning in Wellington. The way he started - leaping into drives through cover and mid-off, cuts on either side of point and couple of thunderous pull shots - dispelled the notion that this was a difficult pitch, but at the end of the day, both Wagner and Liton Das admitted that it had plenty for the bowlers to work with.
Like he did with the turning monsters of Mirpur in 2016 and 2017, Tamim tamed this one too.
Like the Tamim of post-2015, his 74 was the right mix of safety and strokeplay. It was similar to how he went about his work on the first day in Hamilton, or when he steadily built towards another big score on the third day of that same Test. He didn't target a particular bowler but he did not hold back against certain types of deliveries. Boult was driven through the covers if he floated it up with enough width. Southee was short at times, so Tamim focused on picking him for singles, but whenever he went too short, he either threw his hands at it, or went leg-side of the ball to cut it hard.
Unlike any other Bangladeshi batsman, he now has more than 1,000 Test runs in South Africa England New Zealand and Australia (SENA) - although he has never played a Test in Australia, and if CA's recent stance doesn't change, perhaps he never will. He has scored three hundreds and seven fifties, and averages 45.59 in England, New Zealand and South Africa.
Unlike many top batsmen in this era, Tamim doesn't get many opportunities to play Test cricket. Among those who have scored 1,500 runs in the last four years, he has played the fewest matches.
Unlike most Bangladeshi cricketers, Tamim is open to reinventing himself for the sake of his team. After the 2015 World Cup, he concentrated on discipline, both on and off the field. He is a far more restrained batsman now and that has tied in with how he has turned himself into a fitter and stronger person.
Unlike the Tamim of old, he cuts through the bullshit that surrounds many international cricketers. He has bought into a method of run-scoring that works for him, and has become consistent at home and abroad. He has been instrumental in Bangladesh's resurgence as an ODI side in the last four years, as well as having a big influence on their Test wins since 2016.
Like he showed in Wellington, Tamim has the fight that is inherent in all top-class opening batsmen and he's learned it after years of practice, trial and, occasionally, error. He has also ensured his defensive technique is solid enough that he has the chance of succeeding in all conditions but, of course, the strokeplay still gets all the attention.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84