Tamim Iqbal first announced his arrival at the international arena, when he danced down the track against Zaheer Khan to hit him for a straight six at the Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spin during the famous run chase in 2007 World Cup. Since then it has been a decade, the southpaw is around at this level, and he has emerged as Bangladesh’s most elegant batsman across formats.

Tamim, who became the first Bangladeshi batsmen to score 10,000 international runs during the course of his powerpacked 127 at Dambulla on Saturday, is one of those modern day openers who likes to take the attack to the opposition early in the innings. While doing that, at times he comes up with the most irresponsible shot to get out, but when he manages to spend some time at the crease, the left-hander looks as good as anyone in the world.

Predominantly an off-side player, Tamim is one of the hardest hitters of a cricket ball in contemporary cricket. He has all kinds of shots under his armory. From those high-risk hoicks through mid-wicket, to cuts and pulls and delicate late-cuts — Tamim is a 360-degree batsman. Also, he is equally good against pace and spin.

However, despite all his flamboyance, the trademark Tamim Iqbal shot is the elegant backfoot cover drive. His straight drive past the bowler is equally impressive and perhaps his fans want to see him playing those more often, rather than the high-risk ones.

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Describing the class and the grace of the batsmanship of Tamim, cricket historian and writer Abhishek Mukherjee once wrote,”Tamim Iqbal, the man everyone outside Bangladesh seems to have forgotten about. Tamim averages 40 in Test cricket, significantly more than Michael Atherton; his strike rate of 55 is beyond Atherton’s horizon. Against England Tamim has 583 runs from 5 Tests (4.5, actually, since he will bat again here) [written during the time of recent Bangladesh’s recent Test series against England at home] at 65 and a strike rate of 76. He has got at least one fifty in each of these 5 Tests. Of his 7 fifties, 2 have been in excess of a hundred.

“Tamim was destructive on the England tour of 2010. Not only did he score a hundred in each of the 2 Tests, they came at breakneck pace, nearly a run a ball. That England attack consisted of James Anderson, Steven Finn, Tim Bresnan, and Graeme Swann. It did not come as a surprise when Wisden named him Cricketer of the Year in 2011.”

Tamim is a supremely gifted cricketer, perhaps next to only Mohammad Ashraful in terms of raw talent. But unlike Ashraful, Tamim has added maturity to his game. In fact, according to Mukherjee, Tamim is the combination of Habibul Bashar and Ashraful.

“Javed Omar, Tamim’s predecessor, was a stonewaller in the strictest sense of the word. Shahriar Nafees was aggressive, and once beat Shane Warne into pulp. But none the handled pressure with as much efficiency as Bashar.

“Unfortunately, Bashar was not as flamboyant a strokeplayer as Ashraful. Bashar was solid, not spectacular. Tamim was the latter. Now he decided to become both,” he wrote.

However, in Bangladesh, despite arguably being the country’s greatest batsman till date, Tamim does not get the limelight like Shakib al Hasan, Mashrafe Mortaza or Mustafizur Rahman. But he generally contributes when the team is under pressure.

Tamim 2.0

Though Tamim is a natural strokemaker, but of late, we have seen some indications of him controlling his aggression, which Cricketsoccer’s cricket expert and former Indian Test cricketer, Deep Dasgupta has rightly pointed out in a recent analysis.

As a senior member of this impressive Bangladesh team, Tamim these days is ready to play second fiddle, like he did during the course of his partnership with Sabbir Rahman on Saturday.

Tamim let Sabbir play his shots. He just fed him with enough strikes and later when needed he promptly changed gears. In the end, it was primarily his innings, which laid the foundation of Bangladesh victory against Sri Lanka in the first ODI. And remember, Sri Lankans are a tough nut to crack, especially at home.

In recent years, Bangladesh have emerged as one of the most impressive limited-overs units. Not only at home, this team has the potential to do well in foreign conditions as well, like they did in the 2015 World Cup.

Their fans have already been hoping big things from the Tigers, in this year’s Champions Trophy as well as in the 2019 World Cup and those who follow Bangladesh cricket closely can tell you, their fortunes in both these events in English conditions, will heavily depend on how Tamim Iqbal Khan shapes up with bat in hand.

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