“Is that so?" exclaimed Tamim Iqbal with a curious smile when a reporter mistakenly said that Shakib Al Hasan supported the manner of his celebration on Friday night after his hundred. "Shakib can't say that because he is fan of Messi [Lionel Messi] and I am of Cristiano Ronaldo," he joked, while making the correction that it was actually Mushfiqur Rahim who voiced his support. His yet another style of celebration has dominated discussions in different forums and a relieved Tamim gave his version along with other issues while talking with The Daily Star's Bishwajit Roy at the Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel yesterday. Below are the excerpts from the long discussion:
Question (Q): Please tell us about your much-talked about celebration?
Tamim (T): I am a fan of Ronaldo and I did it in Ronaldo style. I never make pre-planned celebration. I did not do it to hurt anybody or show anybody, it actually came spontaneously. I request everybody not to take it negatively. When someone goes through a bad time, he may do something which should not be done and frustration can seep out. Don't take it otherwise. Only I know what a bad time I went through and that's why it came from my heart.
Q: It wasn't long ago that you made 95 but still faced criticism. How do you look at this issue?
T: You cannot avoid criticism and I have no problem with that. People praise me for good performances and criticise for bad performances. It's natural. But please don't make any personal attacks. I have to face a lot of personal attacks, even against my family which I cannot explain to you and as a human being I cannot take it. It is natural that sometimes I can fulfill the expectations and sometimes I cannot. There is no problem if people criticise me regarding cricketing issues.
Q: Was it a special hundred?
T: Of course. I was under pressure. I must thank my teammates who wholeheartedly supported me when I was not scoring. Especially, Mashrafe bhai and Mushfiq always stood behind me and their support helped me play this knock. One cannot feel any better, as I made a hundred and my team won the match. Ultimately I am happy that I could contribute to my team.
Q: Tell us about how you planned your innings.
T: What I believe is that I batted really well in the first ten overs which was the best part of my innings. Then there were spells from Saeed Ajmal and Wahab Riaz, who bowled really well and at that time we could not score runs, but we did well not to give away a wicket. Mushfiq and I both had the confidence that we could make it up. When you make a hundred, you have to go through different phases and big players also follow that design. Life would be easy for any batsman with the way Mushfiq played his innings from the very first delivery.
Q: There have been a lot of questions regarding your fitness. How do you feel about that?
T: Yes, there are scopes to improve my fitness, but everybody should understand that I just recovered from a knee operation, so it will take time. But I know if I can improve my fitness level, it will help my batting.
Q: Putting aside the criticism from outside, are you satisfied with your performances?
T: I am yet to reach the standard which I set for myself. I never portray myself as a big player, because I didn't do much yet. I have got the potential, so I should have done much better, but I have failed to justify my potential so far. Sometimes I get frustrated, but if I can achieve my goal in the next one or two years then everything will change. Hopefully I will be able to fulfill my dream.