Tamim Iqbal wants to score a ton in his hometown

Bangladesh’s Tamim Iqbal was named ‘Man Of The Match’ after their match against Ireland.

By Kuldip Lal

Dhaka: Feb 28, 2011

Think World Cup openers and the names flow easily – Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Kevin Pietersen, Andrew Strauss, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Chris Gayle. Add to the elite list Bangladesh’s Tamim Iqbal, who is just as explosive at the top of the order and as integral to the team’s cause as any of his contemporary superstars.

If Bangladesh are to progress far in the showpiece event, much will depend how the left-hander, one of the most exciting prospects in world cricket, fares. Tamim, who turns 22 in March, went into the World Cup determined to be his team’s top scorer in every match, and he has so far kept that promise in the two matches Bangladesh have played.

Tamim made 70 during a losing, but spirited chase of India’s mammoth 370-4 in the opener, before scoring 44 off 43 balls in his team’s modest, but winning, 205 against Ireland.

A diving catch on the mid-wicket fence to dismiss Ireland’s Niall O’Brien, ensured that Tamim won the man of the match award even though seamer Shafiul Islam stole the limelight with his 4-21 burst. Tamim, who speaks as freely as he bats, admitted the award surprised him.

“I think I got the nod for that catch,” he said. “Shafiul deserved it more, but whoever judged it, thank you for that.”

Tamim bruised his left-hand while taking the catch, but precautionary x-rays and scans cleared him of any serious damage, even though he had injured the same hand last year.

“He has just damaged some soft tissues in his left hand and should be okay within two or three days,” said team manager Tanjeeb Ahsan.

The sigh of relief in the Bangladeshi camp, preparing to face the West Indies at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium on Friday, could be heard across Dhaka. Tamin, younger brother of Bangladesh international Nafis Iqbal and nephew of former Test captain Akram Khan, became a household name soon after making his one-day debut in February, 2007.

A month later and playing only his fifth match, Tamim hit a half-century to fashion Bangladesh’s stunning win over India in the World Cup in the Caribbean. The sight of the teenager dancing down the wicket to smash Indian pace spearhead Zaheer Khan for a six was one of the most memorable moments of that tournament.

Tamim made 53 and 84 on his Test debut against New Zealand in Dunedin in early 2008, but it was on the tour of England last year that the world took notice of this gifted batsman. He scored 103 in the second innings of the Lord’s Test and followed that with another century in the next Test at Old Trafford, but could not prevent England from winning both matches.

In 19 Tests, Tamim has made 1,445 runs at an impressive average of 40.13 with four centuries. He also has 2,754 runs in 91 one-dayers at a strike rate of almost 80 with three hundreds.

Tamim’s immediate target is to score a World Cup century in his home town of Chittagong, where Bangladesh take on England on March 11 and the Netherlands on March 14.

“That’s one place I really want to do well,” he said. Millions of home fans will hope he delivers on that promise too.