In an exclusive interview with Cricbuzz, premier Bangladesh batsman Tamim Iqbal has opened up regarding his plans for the upcoming Asia Cup, a trophy which always has been out of their grasp in the past and also about the slight nuances which he has brought about in his game.
First and foremost he spoke about making the most of the time when a batsman is in form. Regarding the same he said " I believe you should work the most when you are having good form in the middle because it is difficult to keep the motivation when you are going through a low phase. I always believe that I can't guarantee success and scoring runs but I can prepare myself hundred percent, [and] then the job gets easier. Even if I fail despite preparing myself then I can tell myself that I have tried my best but it didn't happen. It's important to prepare well to play well and that's the reason of my extra work.
"I think the training [of facing fuller lengths] is more need based. It was true that we focused on different areas during the session [of facing short balls] we had before the series against West Indies and now we are focusing on different aspects. You must take into consideration what kind of wickets you are expected to get and who will be your opponents and design the session accordingly".
He was then asked regarding his views on batting on flat wickets on which he said " I try to play safely and also maintain a good strike rate and these are the things that I am working on right now. It won't happen overnight. If I become successful at doing that, it will be more beneficial for the team. If you can take your strike rate to 86 or 87, things are even better.
Some of the best batsmen in the world right now, like Virat Kohli, they bat at a strike rate of 90, which is fantastic. To take my strike rate over 80 or 85, there are some things I need to work on. I have to improve myself by not sacrificing what I am doing for the team. If I become 10-15 per cent better as a batsman, all these things will be taken care of. The way I am batting now is very different from how I used to bat. Through the years, through experience you adjust some things. At the same time, you need to understand the role that the team gives you.
[My] role [in the team] has changed over the course of time. Yes, I want to give myself the first twenty balls, except for T20Is. When I play at least 20-30 balls, my chances of scoring runs is higher. That's the change I've brought into my game in the last three-four years. I give myself the first 20 balls, and I see where I am at and take it on".
Tamim also touched upon the point on strike rates while answering this question.
With Tamim Iqbal batting with plenty of different partners at the top order he was asked if Bangladesh can end this conundrum before the ICC World Cup next year. To this, he replied "What happens [in a partnership] is one individual is given the role of anchoring the innings and the other one takes up the responsibility of clearing the ropes. Now, if a younger player is batting with me, it is not fair from my end to go and tell him to hit the ball because new players want to settle at the international level. But if you have someone who's settled in and understands his role, then your job is to take on the bowlers and make sure that there's not much pressure on him. If such opening partnerships are made, it becomes beneficial for the team. I can't specifically name any player but I've batted a lot with Soumya [Sarkar] in the last two-three years. He was very good at taking the pressure off me."
In his next two questions, Tamim highlighted why Bangladesh is lacking to produce quality players in the BPL and their long-lasting tyrant with wrist spin which they have to play a lot in the upcoming Asia Cup.
"Most of the overseas players [in the BPL] are top-order batsmen. They usually occupy the batting positions from one to four. So it becomes a lot difficult for us. When there were five overseas cricketers, the problem was severe but now that is not the case
When you score against an overseas bowler, it boosts your confidence if you have the ability to hit him. When you face the same bowler while playing for the national team, knowing you've hit him for a four or a six or two sixes in an over, then you have [a] different kind of confidence. IPL is doing that beautifully. Their [India's] players are scoring against the renowned international bowlers, so when they go to the international arena and see someone against whom they've batted successfully, it creates a huge difference."
Regarding Bangladesh's troubles facing wrist spin, Tamim highlighted " If you don't practice, if you don't know, then you're normally going to struggle. If all our bowlers were bowling at 125 [kmph] and we had to face 145 in international cricket - which was the case 10 years ago - then we would struggle. But we have two to three bowlers who can click 135 or close to 140 now, and it has helped us getting habituated and we don't feel much difference when we go into international cricket.
Same is the case with legspinners. We don't have enough legspinners in the country. So, we don't have enough experience of playing leg spin.
ODIs are different than T20Is. However, his [Rashid's] bowling won't change and he will be hard to face, no doubt about that. But because you have more time in ODIs, I think you can see it off against one specific bowler."
He ended his interaction keeping his viewpoint on the chances of his team winning the Asia Cup.
"In Asia Cup, you have two games to qualify for the next round. If you win one and lose the other, you never know where you might end up. My focus is on the first two games. We are capable and we should qualify [for the Super Four]. And in the second round [Super Four], you have [to] anyway play your best game because you will be facing the best teams.
"We definitely have a good chance. We have done well in the last two [three] Asia Cups. We were in the finals twice. We should do well considering what we've done in the West Indies. We are on a good run in ODIs. This is the format we're most comfortable in. It depends on how many boxes you've ticked on the day [of the match]. If you've ticked the maximum of the boxes then you definitely have a good chance" concluded Tamim.