Tamim Iqbal (second from right) who will be the brand ambassador of the Bengal Tigers with Pakistan’s Sarfraz Ahmad, Afghanistan’s Mohammad Nabi and team mentor Anis Sajan with team owners Rizwan Sajan and Neelesh Bhatnagar. Image Credit: Picture: Bengal Tigers

Dubai: Bangladesh’s hard-hitting opener Tamim Iqbal feels that his country’s cricket fans are their biggest asset.

Speaking to Gulf News, Iqbal, referring to the role that their fans had played in lifting Bangladesh cricket, said: “Bangladesh fans are the biggest asset we have and they support us every day whenever we play cricket. When Bangladesh played in Dubai recently, at one point I felt like I was in Dhaka. There is so much of crowd support for us and so in that aspect we are very lucky.”

Iqbal was named as brand ambassador of the Bengal Tigers team that will compete in the upcoming T10 League in Sharjah. He, along with Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmad and Afghanistan all-rounder Mohammad Nabi, unveiled the Bengal Tigers team jersey in the presence of team mentor Anis Sajan and owners Rizwan Sajan and Neelesh Bhatnagar.

Talking about his new role, Iqbal said: “I am excited to be the face of Bengal Tigers. This is a team that all Bangladeshis should be proud of and will be watched by all the fans.”

Iqbal had won the hearts of everyone in the recent Asia Cup when he came out to bat with a fractured left wrist after the fall of the ninth wicket against Sri Lanka and hung on with century-maker Mushfiqur Rahim to add 32 runs for the last wicket. When asked about the incident, Iqbal said: “I feel it was my duty though I got injured. I knew if can face a few balls that can give Bangladesh few more runs that can turn advantageous to the team. I think even if it was anyone else in my shoes he too would have done the same thing because we Bangladeshis are very passionate about cricket and we all know how big is the opportunity to play for the nation. It’s not everybody gets a chance to represent the country.”

Iqbal, who enjoys playing breezy knocks, is idolised by many youngsters. He revealed that he works hard on his fitness like Virat Kohli and then went on to hail the Indian captain. “The way Virat Kohli is performing is something exceptional,” he said. “You don’t see this in human beings, to be very honest. Every time he walks out he seems to be scoring hundreds for fun. He is a person that everybody looks up to for not only the way he bats and the way he carries himself and the way he looks after his fitness. I think he is a prime example.”

It was on the day Iqbal got injured during the Asia Cup that Bengal Tigers owner Sajan approached him to be part of the team. In the absence of Sarfraz Ahmad, who had led the team last year but will miss out owing to national team duty, it will be Sam Billings who will lead the squad.

Iqbal is delighted with the rising standards of Bangladesh team over the years. “From 2015 World Cup, we have been playing good cricket, especially in ODIs,” he said. “We started with winning matches at home and today we are one of the best teams in our home conditions. Now, we have also started to winning games overseas. I think in the years to come want to do better in two formats — T20 and Test cricket, too. We are doing well at home in Test cricket but we need to improve overseas. We as a team are growing day by day. We have been working really hard with the oncoming World Cup in mind. We are doing all the right things We have some important series just before the World Cup and we need to play them well, go with the right mindset for the World Cup and just try and beat everyone.”

When asked about what is his approach towards his batting, Iqbal said: “I like to play out the first 10 to 20 balls and then take on from there. One thing I always try to do is if I am set then I take the responsibility. I have played international cricket for 10 to 12 years and it is my responsibility to make sure that the team performs well too.”

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