It will be difficult to count the games where Tamim Iqbal scored runs but eventually missed out on the player-of-the-match award as his friend Shakib Al Hasan snatched it from him with an all-round performance.
It was yet another tight contest between the two friends yesterday, as Shakib picked up three wickets for just 34 runs from his nine overs to bundle out Zimbabwe for 125 in defence of a modest 216 for nine, during which the all-rounder also scored a fifty.
Tamim, on the other hand, once again displayed his batting pedigree on a pitch that was tough to bat on before eventually being dismissed for the match top score of 76 runs off 105 balls. Along with Shakib, he also added 106 runs for the second wicket.
But after Shakib received consecutive player-of-the-match awards in the first two games, when Tamim had also scored fifties, the opener finally received the award on the third occasion and it brought a smile to his face.
When asked how it feels to finally have his contribution to a win officially recognised, Tamim replied: “I told you in the last press conference that I believe in rewards, not awards. Still, today was also neck-and-neck; Shakib was also there -- he scored an important fifty and took two early wickets, so if it went to him I would not have minded. I thought he was equally deserving.”
The left-hander said that stepping out to hit a spinner when the team had lost Shakib, Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah Riyad was the wrong choice of shot, and added that if he had stayed for another five to six overs Bangladesh may have scored around 230-240 runs and he could have also registered his 10th century.
He blamed himself for the collapse but praised the effort of the tail-enders for the contribution with the bat in the latter stage of the innings.
“I have to give credit to the team management again because in the last month and a half the amount of batting time the lower-order batsmen were given... only those who saw it closely would know. They batted a lot [in practice] and today nine, 10 and 11 scored 50 runs . So that made the difference in today's game,” he said.
But there was disappointment over the performances of numbers six and seven batsmen Sabbir Rahman and Nasir Hossain, who were unable to utilise the opportunity presented by the early dismissals of the seniors.
“Every player waits for opportunities like this. Today was an opportunity. Sabbir was unlucky, it was a brilliant catch. I didn't see anything wrong in his shots as well. Maybe Nasir will be disappointed not to score today because there was a perfect opportunity for him to get some runs and get his confidence high,” said Tamim.