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‘I am looking forward to the Chittagong matches’

Talking to ICC about the forthcoming ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 to be held in the subcontinent, dashing Bangladesh opener Tamim Iqbal said this is the ultimate one day tournament and I know what it's like playing in this competition.

Talking to ICC about the forthcoming ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 to be held in the subcontinent, dashing Bangladesh opener Tamim Iqbal said this is the ultimate one day tournament and I know what it's like playing in this competition.


He also said that "I am very excited as this will be at home and the team has developed quite a reputation here." 


Q: Can you believe your success in international cricket to date?


A: Sometimes I have to pinch myself. In 2006 I was playing in the U19 World Cup and next year it was the ICC CWC in the Caribbean. In 2008 I had become a Test player. Everything has been pretty rapid but I have enjoyed every moment of it. I have worked hard at my game and it is always a great feeling when you get reward for hard work. 


Q: What are your thoughts ahead of the World Cup and what do you think about your team's chances?


A: This is the ultimate one day tournament and I know what it's like playing in this competition. I am very excited as this will be at home and the team has developed quite a reputation here. In 2007 I was just a raw teenager as were Shakib (Al Hasan), Mushfique (Rahim) and now we are senior players. We have matured and the team as a whole has developed. We are better prepared and better equipped. 


Q: Will it be special to play a World Cup on home soil?


A: Absolutely! I am particularly looking forward to the Chittagong matches because I can foresee my home town going crazy. The Sher-e-Bangla Stadium is a very special ground for me for its atmosphere and there are times when we feel indomitable there. 


Q: Is there a particular game at the World Cup you are looking forward to? 


A: The first game. A good performance in the opener could be a huge boost. I like the coincidence! Again its India just as it was in the West Indies. This is a team I love playing against firstly because of the challenge and secondly the focus on a match involving India. They are going great at the moment but Bangladesh-India matches have been quite interesting over the last few years. 


Q: Your first match is against India. Do you think they will be able to stop you playing your natural game and how will you adapt to this challenge? 


A: It doesn't matter which team I am playing against. I have a simple philosophy. If the ball is in my zone I will play shots. I have managed to score runs in every condition and against every attack playing in the same manner. I am prepared to back my natural instincts and wait for the right deliveries. 


Q: What will the atmosphere be like for the opening game against India? How do you think teams will adjust to the conditions in Bangladesh? 


A: It will be electric. The Mirpur crowd is absolutely fantastic and they can literally lift your game. There will obviously be a strong contingent of fans from India coming for the game but I have a feeling they'll be outnumbered!  


In this day and age no condition is alien to international players. But for sides that are not from the subcontinent the pitches could be a little tricky because here spinners get the ball to skid on to the bat and the bounce can be variable. Run scoring sometimes is not easy but if you are prepared to fight it out then there will be incentives. The outfield is very fast and smooth and that's why finding the gaps is very important.  


Q: How do you think you can work to convert more of your fifties into centuries?

A: I have realized the importance of staying longer at the crease. If you look at my stats in the first two years of my international career with the second two you'll see that most of my hundreds have come in the second part. I have spent hours batting in the nets simulating match situations and is working on further developing the balance between strokeplay and leaving the balls.   


Q: Do you feel there is a pressure on you to bat for longer in the innings? 


A: It's not pressure. I know that if I bat long then that is beneficial for the team. As an opener it is my responsibility to give the team a proper start and that's why the team can not afford me going out there for cameos like a 20-ball 30. My natural game is more polished now thanks to Jamie (Siddons) who I think is an amazing batting coach. I am spending more time at the wicket these days. 


Q: Who was your childhood cricketing hero and why? 


A: I grew up watching my uncle Akram Khan. He was the first international cricketer from the family before my brother Nafis (Iqbal) got in. Both of us idolised him for his power and consistency and when Bangladesh won the ICC Trophy in 1997 under his leadership and the adulation that followed, I thought to myself this is what I want to be. 


Q: Who has been the biggest inspiration on your career?


A: My father (Late) Iqbal Khan. He never saw me play at international level but he had this dream that Nafis and I would make the cut and he left no stones unturned to fulfill that dream . He would organize tournaments all by himself just for us to play cricket. He was an amputee but still he would stand on a crutch and officiate in matches I was playing. He never had any doubt that I would reach the highest level even when I was barely able to hold a bat.  


Q: Who is your favourite batsman in international cricket and why? 


A: There is no one in particular. However, Mike Hussey is someone I have a lot of admiration for. His consistency and calmness is something I would give a hand to emulate. 


Q: What is the latest on your injury situation?


A: I have never felt better. The surgery and subsequent rehab went very well and now I have been given the green signal to play.  I can't wait!


Q: How important is the Zimbabwe series as preparation for the World Cup?

A: Extremely important. This is our last series before the World Cup and a convincing showing here would be great for the confidence. We also need to carry the good work and vibe from the series against New Zealand to this series. They are a side which knows our conditions well and have been impressive in recent times. It will be a good series and some tough cricket is expected which can only be great for our preparation.

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