Tamim to Bangladesh's rescue


CRICKET TEST MATCH ENGLAND v BANGLADESH:THERE WAS no rout at Lord’s yesterday. Bangladesh, brilliantly, survived and flourished until the second new ball late in the day knocked them back as James Anderson tore in heroically.

And for 156 glorious minutes either side of lunch, we watched in wonder, hard-bitten hacks, seen-it-all-cynics and the sparsest crowd of the match, as Tamim Iqbal, 21-years-old and an uninhibited genius in the making, batted himself into Bangladesh cricket folklore and the Lord’s hall of fame. Sometimes, there is nothing else for it simply to gape at the sheer impudence of someone who can bat with such abandon and disregard for the conventions.

Living by the sword and finally perishing by it, Tamim made 103 runs before he hooked, to Jonathan Trott on the long-leg boundary, a bouncer from the persevering Steve Finn and took just 94 balls to reach three figures. In 1990, anger burning at his indefensible decision to put England in and so concede almost 700 runs, the Indian batsman Mohammad Azharuddin made a hundred from 87 balls.

Eighty-three years prior to that, before the number of deliveries were recorded, the South African Percy Sherwell is said to have made his 115 at faster than a run a minute, which must have been brisk. But no one else has matched Tamim’s rate of scoring.

Under the sun, which transforms the Lord’s pitch from the cloudy capriciousness of the opening day and the rain-affected Saturday, to a more benign personality, Tamim’s ebullient enthusiasm for the task, a monumental one of overcoming a first-innings deficit of 223, was astonishing.

He knows no fear.

England’s bowlers were simply treated with disregard, his opening salvo audacious if flirty, his treatment of Graeme Swann, whom he decided to deposit into the Mound stand a couple of times, little short of disrespectful. The pull shot with which he reached 50, swivelling on one leg, might have been vintage Lara and there are few higher compliments than that.

Has Lord’s ever witnessed anything quite as audacious as his fleeting visit to the 90s? A seminal moment in the history of Bangladesh cricket was approaching. Already his bowling team-mate Shahadat Hossain had had his name inscribed on the visitors’ honours board and now, with 87 to his name, there was a chance of a memorable double.

There should be nerves at such a time, should there not?

Tim Bresnan was eased off the back foot to the extra-cover boundary to take the total to 163, a Bangladesh record for the first wicket, and scored in partnership with the excellent understudy Imrul Kayes who was to make 75. Next, a precise off-drive to the pavilion rails, followed by a brace through midwicket.

Caution now, this was for posterity. Bresnan bowled length, Tamim swung and the ball sailed over the infield and hit the boards below the Bangladesh dressingroom.

At Trent Bridge in 1938, Bradman had called his team on to the balcony to watch Stan McCabe in full flow saying they “would never see anything like it again”.

No such urging was necessary for Tamim’s team-mates, whose collective weight throughout might have caused structural damage. The batsman, meanwhile, ran through and then ran on, and on, until it looked as if he might actually charge up the pavilion steps and write his name on the board himself.

“Me” he shouted, pointing to his back, “Put my name up”.

If he was gone shortly after, taking with him 15 fours and two sixes, he left behind, indelibly, the memory of a great innings.

By the close of a long day Bangladesh, at 328 for five, with Junaid Siddique on 66, had established a lead of 105, and still retained a prospect of saving a game that seemed beyond them.

England have been thwarted by pitches such as this before when in the ascendant.

There was little swing, despite the fuller length that the seamers employed, and nothing off the pitch except for new ball bounce. Swann, from the Nursery End for all but a couple of overs, found some occasional sharp turn but not enough to trouble decent players of spin and has had his bubble burst temporarily.

Under the circumstances, England stuck to their task well, with Finn outstanding once more. Clearly he has heart although by the end of the day, his pace was down: this is a summer where England will build up his stamina and fitness.

To Finn went the first two wickets of the second innings, both from around the wicket, with Ian Bell, deepish at short-leg, taking a sharp catch in front of his face as Imrul Kayes turned a delivery off his hips. Later Trott garnered his first Test wicket with his medium pace when Jahurul Islam offered a return catch via bat and pad.

That he was bowling at all brought thoughts that England should have a fifth frontline bowler, to which a response is to cast the mind back four years to a similar game on a similar pitch, when England’s four seamers and a spinner, having seen Sri Lanka make only 192 in response to England’s 551, and following on 359 in arrears, then conceded 537 for nine second time around. Runs or wickets?

The game is rarely a simple one.

Lord's Scoreboard

Overnight: England 505 (I J L Trott 226, A J Strauss 83; Shahadat Hossain 5-98). Bangladesh 237-7 (Junaid Siddique 58, Tamim Iqbal 54; S T Finn 4-75).

Bangladesh: First Innings

Shahadat Hossain b Anderson 20

Rubel Hossain c Cook b Bresnan 9

Islam not out 9

Extras lb2 w3 nb1 pens 0 6

Total (93 overs) 282

Fall of wickets: 1-88 2-134 3-179 4-185 5-191 6-221 7-234 8-255 9-266

Bowling: Anderson 31-6-78-4; Bresnan 24-5-76-1; Finn 25-5-100-4; Swann 11-6-19-0; Trott 2-0-7-0.

Bangladesh: Second Innings

Iqbal c Trott b Finn 103

Kayes c Bell b Finn 75

Siddique not out 2

Islam not out 3

Extras b4 lb6 nb1 pens 0 11

Total 2 wkts (44.4 overs) 194

Fall of wickets: 1-185 2-189

To Bat: Mohammad Ashraful, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mahmudullah, Shahadat Hossain, Robiul Islam, Rubel Hossain.

Bowling: Anderson 7-1-35-0; Bresnan 11-4-55-0; Finn 11.4-4-41-2; Swann 15-3-53-0.