Tamim Iqbal lit up Dhaka’s sky, playing unarguably the best T20 knock by a Bangladeshi batsman as Comilla Victorians clinched Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) trophy for the second time on Friday at Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium.
The dashing opener struck a herculean century, a 61-ball 141-run unbeaten innings, studded with 10 fours and 11 sixes, quite rare from a Bangladeshi player, to sink Dhaka Dynamites single handedly by 17 runs.Tamim gave Dhaka a bitter taste of defeat in BPL final for the second consecutive time and simultaneously gave Comilla the trophy after 2015.
His marauding century was the key to Comlla’s massive 199 runs for 3 wickets in the final after which their bowlers survived Dhaka top-order’s assault to help Comilla restrict Dhaka to 182 runs for 9 wickets.
Tamim, however, contributed with two tough catches during Dhaka’s chase that resulted in two key wickets of Shakib Al Hasan and Keiron Pollard, making the final game almost a one-man show.
But hardly anybody expected such a domineering Chris Gayle-like century from Tamim Iqbal. His breathtaking century enthralled the full-house crowd and gave them the opportunity to witness one of the best T20 innings played by a local batsman.
He seemed to be on a different zone totally, reminiscing the Gayle century, which plundered Dhaka in the final of the last season.
More than anything else it seemed the crowd witnessed Tamim the way they had seen him growing up until he made his transformation to serve the purpose of the team by remaining satisfied with an anchoring role.But such a century, full with unorthodox yet proper cricketing shots demonstrated the fact that he can now claim to be on the verge of converting himself from being a shadow of a good batsman into someone who is going to the next level.
The magnitude of the century lied in another aspect. He remained unbeaten and finished with a daddy hundred, 141 runs off just 61 balls, at a strike rate of 232 while no other batsmen from his side had strike rate over 86. Much of Comilla batsmen struggled to get going but it made no difference to Tamim as he hammered 70.8 percent of his team's total of 199 runs.
In his brutal knock he hit 10 fours and 11 maximums, which is a record by a Bangladeshi batsman. The previous best was Sabbir Rahman’s 9 sixes in his 61-ball 122-run innings in 2016. His strike rate was 231.14, while Ahmed Shehzad was closely trailing with 230.61 with his 49-ball 113-run in BPL 2012.
However, Shakib Al Hasan’s decision to bowl first initially seemed to be the right decision as Comilla Victorians batsmen including Tamim Iqbal appeared to be suffocated in their pursuit of making runs in a pitch which appeared to be slow and low.
Dhaka were pumped up after Rubel Hossain had dangerous Evin Lewis leg-before for 6 runs. Tamim and Anamul Haque Bijoy then slowly but gradually recovered the loss of Lewis while the former went from strength to strength.
Anamul struggled to score but Tamim was in his zone. Such was his imperious touch that he kept striking boundaries even against some unplayable deliveries.
Shakib Al Hasan broke the partnership by trapping Anamul leg-before for 24 runs off 30 balls before Shamsur Rahman was run out for naught. If it gave Dhaka some relief, Tamim’s brutal assault after that left them without any answer.
Tamim shared an unbeaten 100-run partnership off 46 balls with Imrul Kayes in fourth wicket where Tamim himself made 83 runs off 25 balls. Kayes was not out with 17 runs off 21 balls.
Only Sunil Narine from Dhaka was spared to some extent conceding just 18 runs and without any wicket in four overs. Shakib and Rubel took one wicket each but conceded 45 and 48 runs respectively.
Dhaka were set a target of 200 runs which in this kind of pitch was a tough one. Their situation worsened by the run out dismissal of Sunil Narine in the first over. But Rony Talukdar and Upul Tharanga hit back with 102 runs off 52 balls, giving Dhaka a glimmer of hope.
A spirited Comilla came back into the match through Thisara Perera whose slower delivery caused the dismissal of Tharanga after a 27-ball 48-run knock, studded with 4 fours and 3 sixes.
Comilla regrouped well and Wahab Riaz came back in his second spell with fire to get the better of Shakib Al Hasan (3) and a marauding Andre Russell (4). In both occasions Tamim was the fielder, taking catches from a position that looked nearly impossible.
In between good fielding show from Comilla fielders, ran Rony Talukdar who was also in sublime form. Rony smacked 38-ball 66 runs, with 6 fours and 3 sixes.
The dismissal of two big hitters Russell and Pollard indeed ended Dhaka’s hopes.
Wahab Riaz ended with 3 wickets for 28 runs while Mohammad Saifuddin and Thisara Perera claimed 2 wickets apiece.