As the first game of tri-series in Ireland commenced, I was surprised to see the wicket. I don’t see such wickets these days as modern-day wickets are made only to aid the big bats and smash the ball out of the park. This is the age of big bats, short boundaries and Twenty20 and for which, a green-top surface is a rare species these days. That’s why, I never thought, Ireland would surprise me, Bangladesh and their fans with a surface which could not be differentiated from the lush green outfield of Malahide.
Bangladesh are not accustomed to bat on such tracks and chilling conditions on a regular basis. All of a sudden the thoughts of a hiccup cropped up in my mind. But I calmed myself down thinking, over the years, Bangladesh have developed a confidence within them to cope with any conditions and face tough challenges from any oppositions. Certainly, this Bangladesh have come a long way since that humiliating defeat against Ireland in the Common Wealth Games in 1998. They play the game hard and don’t surrender easily.
The start of Bangladesh was not good. I could have accepted the quick fall of wickets for the green-top surface, but except Soumya Sarkar, the three wickets that fell within fifteen overs were due to poor shot selection. No batsman can fetch runs on a green-top where the ball moves a lot with cross-batted strokes and hard hands. Sabbir threw his bat at the ball in a BPL-fashion and got caught at third man, Mushfiq tried to cut a ball with hard hands and Shakib was dismissed while chasing a wide ball.
One man was watching the show from the other end and decided to exhibit his class as a batsman on a wicket which loomed large in the minds of Bangladesh top order batsmen.
Tamim Iqbal is a fearless character. He has that dam-care nature in him which always helps him to overcome any sort of challenges. He’s a bloke who’s always beaming with confidence and it was evident today when he faced the first ball of the day from Tim Murtagh. Tamim took no time to get off the mark by pushing the ball towards legside for two. Murtagh knew Tamim’s habit of going hard at anything outside off and thus, pitched the last ball of the over in that area to lure him, but Tamim left it wisely.
Soumya and Sabbir’s dismissals made Tamim use his head more and control his impulsive nature. He decided to cope with the condition by spending more time at the crease. He was playing the ball late and stayed behind the line of the ball to counter the movement of new-ball. He witnessed Mushfiq crack a boundary, but still remained silent and kept on middling the ball to gain rhythm.
In the second ball of sixth over, Tamim cracked his first boundary off Peter Chase who was bowling well. His second boundary was against Chase as well. A flick towards fine leg gave Bangladesh innings momentum. In the ninth over, Murtagh, pitched one up and another wide of offstump. Tamim executed two back-to-back boundaries by pristine timing. The punch back past the bowler and eye-catching cover drive were the result of playing the ball with soft hands which are a must in seaming conditions.
Mushfiq and Shakib left the scene, but Tamim was unfazed.
He stitched a productive partnership with Mahmudullah Riyad and rotated the strike on a regular basis. The understanding between Tamim and Mahmudullah was appreciative and they picked singles and couples smartly. In the second ball of 23rd over, Stuart Thompson pitched one around offstump, which Tamim dropped quickly on the off and invited his partner for a quick single. This quick single forced Ireland to manoeuvre their field and in the next delivery, Mahmudullah picked three runs on the leg side.
Tamim had a liking towards Barry McCarthy. His strike rate against McCarthy was 133.33 and dispatched him for boundaries three times. The second Irish bowler whom Tamim dominated was Peter Chase. Stuart Thompson and Murtagh tested Tamim’s technique and temperament, but he did not lose his calm and composure against them.
Tamim brought up his fifty with a bowler’s back drive against McCarthy. It was already transforming into one of his finest knocks and the partnership of 86 runs between him and Mahmudullah was proving handy for the hosts until the rain came down heavily to turn the match into a damp squib.
But one thing for sure, Bangladesh might not have the opportunity to play on batting-friendly tracks in this tri-series. Many in the social media criticised the wicket, but I was surprisingly satisfied to see the Tigers play on such a green-top as it will only help Bangladesh to improve more. And of course, they should play like Tamim in the upcoming matches.