DHARAMSALA: Tamim Iqbal creamed the Oman bowlers to score Bangladesh’s maiden T20 international century and secure his team’s berth in the main draw of the tournament. His hundred set up a total of 180 for 2, which Shakib Al Hasan defended by razing the middle order on a rainy night in Dharamsala. Oman, who were flying high after a victory against Ireland, were shackled to 65 for 9 in 12 overs.
The match was interrupted twice by rain and Oman’s target was revised to 120 in 12 overs. They effectively needed 75 off 22 balls after the second break. Oman then lost a spate of wickets and were never going to get close, bringing to an end a frustrating week in Dharamsala, where bad weather affected four of the first-round matches.
Tamim lit up a damp night, though, with five sixes in his 63-ball innings – four on the leg side and one between mid-off and cover. He rotated strike too, scoring nearly a third of his runs in ones and twos. Tamim’s 97-run stand with Sabbir Rahman for the second wicket put Bangladesh in command and he stayed the course to give the innings a flourish at the finish.
It would be accurate to state that this hundred is Bangladesh’s best T20I innings to date. The manner in which Tamim began indicated what was to come for Oman: Amir Ali had to pull his hand out of the way of a straight drive that was hit so hard it might have caused injury.
At the other end, however, Soumya Sarkar struggled to get the ball out of the 30-yard circle. He struck two fours in his 12 off 22 balls and in the seventh over Ajay Lalcheta put him out of his misery. Tamim had hit the same bowler for fours to square-leg and third-man and for a well-timed six over long-on.
Soumya’s dismissal seemed to do Bangladesh a favour because the effervescent Sabbir rotated strike from the first ball he faced. He got his first four with a reverse sweep that Bilal Khan nearly caught at short third-man, though, and he also could have been caught at long-on off Munis Ansari in the ninth over but it was a tough chance for Mehran Khan running to his left.
Bangladesh reached 70 for 1 in ten overs and Tamim and Sabbir looked set for a big total. They picked up 14 off the next over bowled by Ansari, Oman’s best bowler. Tamim reached 52 off 35 balls in the 13th over before he and Sabbir struck a six each over long-off and long-on in the next six balls – the blow from Sabbir off Khawar Ali travelled 96 metres and landed in the second tier.
Khawar was struck for a 94-metre six by Tamim too in the 16th over, but the bowler had his revenge when he had Sabbir bowled around his legs for 44 off 26 balls. With four overs remaining, Shakib Al Hasan was promoted to No 4 and made 17 off nine balls.
Tamim’s hundred came in the 19th over, when after a brief lull he blasted Bilal through cover to score his tenth four – all of them along the ground. Bilal, however, was the only one to have bowled well at the top and towards the end, giving away just 16 runs in four wicketless overs.
Oman had pulled off a shock chase against Ireland but it went wrong right from the start against Bangladesh. Their openers Zeeshan Maqsood and Khawar Ali skied catches in the first and fourth overs, top edging to third man and to mid-on respectively. Jatinder Singh and Adnan Ilyas played attractive shots but Ilyas was run out after the first rain break. Aamir Kaleem was caught off his glove in the ninth over, just before the second rain break.
Shakib’s 4 for 15 were his best figures in T20Is, and the smile on his face was good news for Bangladesh. As much as the team had enjoyed Tamim’s batting form, they needed their best player to find his all-round form ahead of the main draw.
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