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Tamim Iqbal hints he may give up one format to prolong his international career

"If I want to play for another four or five years, I don't think I can play all three formats"

Mohammad Isam
Mohammad Isam
Tamim Iqbal walks onto the field, New Zealand vs Bangladesh, 1st ODI, Dunedin, March 20, 2021

Tamim Iqbal is Bangladesh's top scorer in both ODI and T20I cricket  •  Getty Images

Bangladesh ODI captain Tamim Iqbal has hinted that he may call time on one format of international cricket to "prolong his international career". He added to prevailing speculation that he could quit T20Is after having opted out of the three-match T20I series in New Zealand for personal reasons.
Over the last 14 years, Iqbal has been a constant for Bangladesh at the top of the order, having only missed a handful of matches, mostly due to injuries.
"If I want to play for another four or five years, I don't think I can play all three formats," Tamim told the Youtube channel Allrounder. "It won't be possible. I have to pick two formats that are important to me, in which I can have an impact for the team. It might be now or even after six months. I might not even play two formats. I may play just one format.
"I know how long I want to play or what I want to achieve. I don't want to disclose it but I can promise that I won't push it too much. If I want to prolong my international career, I have to give away something. I will surprise a lot of people sooner or later. If I think it is best for the team and my career, I will definitely take the decision. I have never been shy of taking hard decisions."
Iqbal said that usually cricketers tend to leave one format at a time, and keep their most favourite format for the end, so that they can lengthen their career in that format. He hinted that he might want to leave the ODIs last, although he has, in the past, said that Test cricket is the pinnacle for him.
"There are very few cricketers who retire from all three formats together," he said. "Sometimes they leave Test cricket the last, if they think they have more to achieve and give to the team. If I feel I add more value to the team in one-day cricket, it might be the last one that I leave. It might even be T20Is.
Iqbal also said that Bangladeshis must start getting used to such plans and statements from the senior cricketers. "There is no reason to see it in bad light. We are just not mentally ready to hear such things," he said. Whenever someone says that he won't play in a certain format, we take it very negatively.
"Rather than seeing it like this, one should take it logically. Our body is meant to break if you push it too much."
Iqbal is currently Bangladesh's highest run-getter in ODIs and T20Is. As far as Test cricket is concerned, he is currently Bangladesh's second-highest scorer just behind Mushfiqur Rahim. Iqbal's 23 hundreds and 85 fifties are most for Bangladesh in international cricket, and he is also the second-most capped Bangladesh player across formats.
Bangladesh's next assignment is a two-match Test series against Sri Lanka, for which they fly out to Colombo on April 12. The first Test will begin on April 21 in Pallekele.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84