Tamim Iqbal has been recalled in Bangladesh side © AFP
Tamim Iqbal has been recalled in Bangladesh side © AFP

With ICC World T20 2016 round the corner, Bangladesh cricket suffered a big blow as their rising star Mustafizur Rahman suffered a side strain during their 23-run victory over Sri Lanka in Asia Cup 2016. The selectors though, curiously, decided to name Tamim Iqbal as his replacement for the final encounter against Pakistan. Tamim was earlier given rest to attend the birth of his first child and keep himself fresh for the World T20, which will be organised in India. But the question which came up in everyone’s mind is, ‘Why was a batsmen selected to replace a bowler’? A very interesting call, which can only be answered in one word: Experience.

When one looks at the performance of Bangladesh in this Asia Cup, their batting has let them down severely. The scores of 121 against India, 133 against UAE and 147 against Sri Lanka clearly indicate the struggles. Barring Sabbir Ahmed against Sri Lanka, the top-order is yet to click. With a probable do-or-die’ game against an almost-unplayable Mohammad Aamer, the news of Tamim’s return to the side has uplifted the belief among fans. His introduction will bring much-needed stability at the top of the order. The batsmen down the order will feel more secure knowing his capabilities. ALSO READ – Pakistan vs Bangladesh Asia Cup T20 2016, Match 8 at Dhaka: Likely XI for Pakistan

Tamim’s 839 T20I runs have come at 20.46 and a strike rate of 108. These are not excellent numbers, but we know what he is capable of. Tamim has been inconsistent, and is a proven match-winner on his day. He has a Test double-hundred, an ODI 150, and was a Wisden Cricketer of the Year.

A player blessed with brilliant timing, Tamim’s reading of the game will be a huge asset to a side that has lost too many wickets in early overs. On pitches where the ball has seamed and swung, openers Mohammad Mithun and Soumya Sarkar have failed to give their side good starts. Imrul Kayes, Tamim’s trusted partner in Test cricket, has not oozed much confidence either. Tamim will bring experience to the Bangladesh line-up, and can take the attack to the Pakistan camp, going after Aamer from first ball. His ability to soak up the pressure and counterattack may just be what Bangladesh needs. ALSO READ – Pakistan vs Bangladesh, Asia Cup T20 2016, Match 8 at Dhaka: Likely XI for Hosts’

While there is no doubt that the injury to Mustafizur will be a huge blow to the team, the introduction of Tamim to the side will provide the team with much-needed experience at the top. If Tamim is able to get his stride against Pakistan and contribute positively, the morale of both the Bangladesh and Tamim will be high going into the World Cup.

(R Narayan is a reporter with CricketCountry)