Kayes is not flashy or a crowd-pleaser. He is an innings builder who chugs along with singles and twos. But when the opportunity is there, he hits the ball with authority to caress it to the boundary © Getty Images

 

By Faisal Caesar

 

Batsmen like Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Tamim Iqbal are born with the license to kill bowlers. When they are in the middle, their overpowering batting reduces the importance of their partners at the other end. But the roles of these quiet, unsung heroes at the non-striking end can never be underestimated. They provide a sense of calmness and assurance amid the mayhem that is brought about by the dashers at the opposite end.

 

When the big bat of Tamim Iqbal starts blazing, the crowd goes wild. They just can’t have enough of the flow of boundaries and clamour for more. And when he gets out, there is complete silence around the stadium.

 

Tamim’s departure puts the batting order under pressure as his partners over the years have failed miserably. And if Shakib Al Hasan fails, then it’s the beginning of the end for Bangladesh. Though exciting to watch, Tamim is not the man Bangladesh who can be expected to carry his bat through the innings. Bangladesh lacked an opener who had the ability to bat through the innings in a 50 overs game. But they have now found that much-needed batsman who can keep the scoreboard moving with confidence and calmness. He is focused in building his innings – brick by brick.

 

Tamim lacked a solid partner at the other end for many years. The exile of Shahriar Nafees from the national team had created a big hole in 2008. But since the year 2010, a shy young man’s enough cool and composure is providing the perfect combination for the Tigers. He is Imrul Kayes.

 

Kayes made his first-class debut in 2006, playing 15 first-class matches and 16 One-Day matches before being called up for the third One-Day International between Bangladesh and New Zealand in Chittagong. Batting at No 3, he made just 12 runs as Bangladesh lost by 79 runs. He made his Test match debut in November 2008 against South Africa. He opened the batting, but made just 10 and 4 in his two innings, being dismissed twice on the second afternoon of the match.

 

Till the year 2010, Kayes’ batting was irritating and annoying. He used to gift his wicket away and he lacked the confidence and temperament to build his innings. But things changed on the tour to New Zealand last year.

 

The year 2010 had been watershed in his career in which he struck form scoring 867 runs, becoming the 5th highest runs scorer of the year in ODI at an average of 32.11. He scored his maiden ODI century against New Zealand.

 

Kayes is not flashy or a crowd-pleaser. He is an innings builder who chugs along with singles and twos. But when the opportunity is there, he hits the ball with authority to caress it to the boundary.

 

In the Bangladesh team Shahriar Nafees is undoubtedly the best timer of the ball, but Kayes is not far behind. Kayes also has the ability to pick the gaps through the most difficult of field settings – a quality reminiscent of Aminul Islam in the past – that helps him maneuver the strike.

 

If Tamim is there to go after the bowlers then, Kayes is there to drop down the anchor and ensure all is safe at the other end. His appetite for runs has increased immensely over the years and the back-to-back man of the match awards proves. He puts a price tag on his wicket.

 

Kayes’s presence has given adequate assurance at the top of the order for Bangladesh. Though overshadowed at most times by “Boom-Boom” Tamim, Kayes’s value for Bangladesh can never be underestimated. He is clearly emerging from Tamim’s shadow and carving a name as Bangladesh’s Mr Dependable.

 

(Faisal Caesar is a doctor by profession whose dream of becoming a cricketer remained a dream. But his passion is very much alive and he translates that passion in writing about the game)