"Every individual should have plans. I think we gave away our wickets away just when we were batting well. We have known for a long time that Neil Wagner will do this [bowl short balls], but how you tackle it depends on the individual. Some want to pull the short ball -- I think ducking is a better option for me, so I kept on ducking,” Tamim Iqbal, Bangladesh's standout batsman on the first day of the first Test against New Zealand, said after striking his ninth ton yesterday.
Despite Tamim's 128-ball 126, which included 21 fours and a six, Bangladesh were all out for just 234 even though at lunch the Tigers were on a strong 122 for two after being sent in to bat on a green Seddon Park pitch.
That Wagner picked four of his five wickets with short deliveries raised questions about the difference between Tamim's approach and his teammates' when facing the left-arm seamer?
It was the homework that Tamim did that set him apart. He took his guard outside leg stump, shuffled towards middle and off stump and cut down the angle that makes Wagner's lifters all the more effective.
For those who have followed Tamim's batting closely through his career, and as the left-hander himself admitted, he had never shuffled while facing a fast bowler. But he knew it was the only way to handle the hosts' short ball strategy and he made the adaptation brilliantly.
It was because of his shuffling that the dashing opener was able to get inside the line of and under the bouncers when going for the pull or even ducking. This adjustment helped him score at least 40 per cent of his runs, including the boundary off Wagner to reach his hundred yesterday.
Another example of Tamim's plan for dealing with short deliveries, in his words, was: “In my case, I pulled Tim Southee with the wind and towards the smaller side. I knew that it was a better option from this end, rather than the far end. You have to mix and match, duck, take singles. It keeps your mind fresh. Look, the batsmen know their mistakes but we know we will come back strong.”
From Mominul Haque, Mohammad Mithun, skipper Mahmudullah Riyad to Liton Das -- all were dismissed by Wagner's short deliveries because they just could not realise what Tamim had cottoned on to and acted accordingly.
Tamim was also cautious about his favoured cover drives. His teammates may also have noticed that he had always tried to play with the full face of the bat, rather than looking to hit with a full swing, which often forces the bat face to close.
The reason for playing with the full face of the bat was because of the double-paced nature of the pitch. Although there was not much swing and movement off the wicket, Tamim still ensured that he does not nick off while driving and the decisiveness and controlled flourishes outside off stump allowed him to play drives even off deliveries that were not there to hit.
An example was his cover drive off a Trent Boult delivery which was quite far from his body, but Tamim took a big stride forward and waited for the ball to meet the middle of the bat, maintaining solid balance, and forced the ball past the extra cover region in a flash.
The difference between Tamim and the approach of the other Bangladesh batsmen was a lack of homework and adaptability on the parts of the latter.
It was disappointing from Bangladesh's point of view to throw away the momentum despite getting a brilliant start and if the Bangladesh batsmen are not able to rectify their mistakes and take a leaf out of Tamim's book of adaptation, things may remain the same in their second innings as well.