Bangladesh arrived for their second Test tour of England without much of a fanfare.
Ten years of Test cricket had brought the country limited success and their only previous visit to England as a Test nation had seen the hosts warm up for the 2005 Ashes series with two wins by an innings. But in Tamim Iqbal they had a 21 year-old batsman rapidly finding his feet at the top of the game. Tamim had scored 53 and 84 as an 18 year-old debutant in New Zealand, but for the next 18 months he struggled to build on his promising start. 17 Test innings passed without another 50, but then came the breakthrough - an innings of 128 against West Indies at St Vincent that helped his team to a 95-run win. A few months later, he made 151 against India at Mirpur to prove it was no flash in the pan. Here was one Bangladeshi cricketer that the world would have to look out for.
Shahadat Hossain proved to be another, taking 5 for 98 in England’s first innings. But he couldn’t stop England running up a formidable total of 505 with Jonathan Trott’s eight-hour 226 the backbone of the innings. Bangladesh would bat for the rest of the match under the greatest pressure. Not that you would have known it from the way they batted. Tamim and fellow opener Imrul Kayes set off at four runs per over and reached 88 before Tamim was run out by a direct hit from Kevin Pietersen for 55. Having bowled too short at first, England’s bowlers now found a better length and Bangladesh’s total of 282 left them 24 short of the follow-on target.
At the start of Bangladesh’s second innings Tamim carried on where he had left off in their first. If anything, he was in even more aggressive mood. He pounced on anything short to pull or cut and drove fiercely through the off side. At one point he smashed Graeme Swann for two sixes and a four in consecutive balls. He reached his hundred from 94 balls, the fastest yet by a Bangladesh batsman in Tests and his partnership with Imrul had reached 185 before he finally hooked Steven Finn down to deep fine leg for 103. Bangladesh ended their innings on 382, and although England reached their target comfortably having lost only two wickets, there was no doubt that the match would be remembered for Tamim’s sparkling and extraordinary strokeplay.