Cricket: Quickfire ton from Tamim gives glimmer of hope to Bangladesh
The few thousand curious souls who turned up to Lord's yesterday were treated to one of the fastest Test hundreds made at the ground after Tamim Iqbal sought to counter the setback of his team following on with a frenzy of big shots.
The names may not roll off the tongue, but it was entertainment of the highest order. It has also given Bangladesh, who lead England by 105 runs with five wickets remaining, a chance of saving a match that had looked beyond salvation six hours earlier when they were made to bat again 223 runs behind.
To achieve what would be their seventh draw in 67 Tests, or a fourth win should the unthinkable happen to England's batting today, they will need to bat for at least 50 of the 98 overs scheduled, not impossible given that Junaid Siddique, on 66, and Shakib Al Hasan, are both capable of big scores.
Any escape will owe much to Tamim, though. Batsmen who tee off in Test cricket have become more common since the rise of Twenty20, but to sustain it all the way to three figures, as Tamim did, is rare. His 94-ball century, which included two sixes and 15 fours, certainly floored England's bowlers, their impotence re-igniting the debate whether four bowlers or five is the best way to win Test matches.
Only 21, Tamim is not one of those batsmen who will die wondering what might have been if only they'd been more positive. Some of his shots, especially the fresh air ones, were no more than crude slogs, but there were some, memorably the pull for four to bring up his 50, of which Brian Lara would have been proud.
Even when Imrul Kayes had words with him to calm down, after he had miscued a Tim Bresnan bouncer to reach his 90s, his riposte was to hit the bowler for four, two, four, the last one over mid-on to bring up his 100.
If balls faced is the criterion, only Mohammad Azharuddin has scored a quicker hundred at Lord's. He caressed 87 balls to reach the milestone in 1990. The onslaught certainly unnerved England's bowlers. The net result was that other batsmen benefitted, with Imrul making his highest Test score after a stand of 185 with Tamim.
These days, the follow-on is rarely enforced without consideration, but Andrew Strauss did not seem to hesitate long before informing Bangladesh to pad up again. It was the right decision, though whether four bowlers is the best way to take 20 wickets, now that pitches rarely deteriorate, is open to debate. (© Daily Telegraph, London)