Shakib Al Hasan has been among the top three all-rounders in the world for a decade. That’s 10 years of excellence with the bat and ball in ODIs, home and away.
It is very difficult to be equally good with the bat and ball at the international level; one aspect of your game tends to take over after one point. But 13 years after his international bow, Shakib has managed to emerge as Bangladesh’s best batsman and bowler. And in a consistent and talented team like Bangladesh, it is no mean feat.
Shakib is breaking ODI all-rounder records for fun. He was the fastest by a country mile to the double of 6,000 runs and 250 wickets, taking 92 fewer innings than Shahid Afridi. In the ongoing World Cup, Shakib has emerged as the MVP by leading the run-scoring chart – 384 runs from four innings with two tons and as many fifties – and five wickets at an economy of less than six.
One reason for the stupendous effort – after uncertainty following a finger fracture earlier in the year – is his recent promotion to the No3 position which, according to Shakib, has allowed him more time to settle into an innings and play for as long as possible.
But the second, and equally important, reason is the time and effort he put into his World Cup preparations.
The 32-year-old was in India for the IPL with Sunrisers Hyderabad but given the stellar performances of overseas stars David Warner, Jonny Bairstow, Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan, he couldn’t find a way back into the XI. So for nearly a month, Shakib – the best all-rounder in the game – was warming the bench.
With the World Cup on the horizon, Shakib made judicious use of the downtime. According to ESPNcricinfo, the left-hander undertook an intense training regime under the watchful eyes of trainer Jade Roberts and even flew in his mentor Mohammad Salahuddin to India to work on his overall game.
The end result of all that training and a major change in his diet was a Shakib six kilos lighter and hungry for success.
Even after a decade at the top, Shakib realised that to be the best at the World Cup, ‘regular’ wasn’t going to be good enough. Hits in the nets and routine rounds at the gym can only take you so far. To deliver more than you have ever before, hard yards need to be put in and once he put his mind to it in the IPL, there was no stopping Shakib.
Not only is Shakib making the most of good batting conditions in the World Cup, his left-arm spin is more than doing its job. Against the West Indies, Shakib deceived well-set Evin Lewis and Nicholas Pooran and had them caught down the ground. Had either of the two been at the crease towards the end, the Windies would have easily scored more than 350.
As Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza said: “Shakib Al Hasan has made it in this World Cup now. In every match he’s doing something that’s exceptional.”
Bangladesh are the most experienced team in this World Cup; their core of Shakib, Mashrafe, Tamim Iqbal and Mushfiqur Rahim played the 2007 World Cup. They have only had one bad game so far – against England where they conceded 386. In a razor-sharp Shakib, they have the ultimate weapon to bring all that experience together to progress in England. They have two wins and two defeats from five games. Afghanistan and Pakistan can be beaten. One win against Australia – their next opponents- or India and the Tigers will be in the hunt.
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