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.
Sarfaraz Ahmed’s team were thrashed by 89 run at Old Trafford on Sunday. Indian opener Rohit Sharma smashed 140 as the men in blue amassed 336-5. Pakistan could only manage 212-6 in reply to their revised target of 302 in 40 overs.
Waqar said Pakistan were no match for an Indian side that rely on team work and not individual efforts.
“In the last few years, there’s been a massive difference India and Pakistan – and again it showed at Old Trafford on Sunday,” Waqar wad quoted as saying by AFP.
“Pakistan are still trying to rely on talent alone, while with India it’s all about teamwork. They all know their roles, and they execute them superbly.
“We had good sides in the 1990s, but now I think this India team intimidates Pakistan.”
KL Rahul and captain Virat Kohli chipped in with fifties as India cashed in after seeing off the initial spell of left-arm pacer Mohammad Amir. The rest of the bowling rarely troubled Indian batsmen.
“India have very classy batsmen, let’s not forget. They wait for the bad ball, and didn’t have to do much against the Pakistan attack given the inconsistency in the length.
“Mohammad Amir was the only one who created a bit of pressure by bowling a good length,” the former fast bowler said.
West Indies skipper Jason Holder bemoaned his side’s lack discipline with the ball and in the field after they fell to a crushing seven-wicket defeat against Bangladesh in the 2019 ICC World Cup.
Windies put on a daunting total of 321-8 on the board at Taunton but they were made to look ordinary with the ball by Bangladesh who chased down the target with more than eight overs to spare.
“I thought we were about 40-50 (runs) short, the wicket played well throughout,” Holder told broadcaster Star Sports after the comprehensive loss.
“We could have been more discipline with the ball and we also let ourselves down in the field. It was just a situation where we never got momentum going as we should.
“If you score 320, you have to try really hard to defend. We didn’t get wickets and also let some chances slip.”
The defeat has left the Caribbean side with just one win to show for after five games and it came in their campaign opener against Pakistan. They must now win all of their remaining four games to stand any chance of making the semi-final and Holder admitted every match will now be a virtual final for his men.
“No excuses, we should have been more disciplined. Having said that, every game is a final and we have to pull ourselves up,” Holder said.
Bangladesh’s comfortable run chase was largely down to Shakib Al Hasan who continued his magnificent World Cup campaign. The all-rounder struck his second consecutive ton of the tournament on Monday to move past Aaron Finch as the leading run-scorer of the World Cup with 384 runs in four innings.
The No1 ranked ODI all-rounder in the world is revelling in the No3 role since being promoted up the order and was delighted to take his side across the finish line against Windies.
“It feels great. To stay at the wicket till the end was the most satisfying,” Shakib said after his unbeaten innings of 124.
“I’ve been working on my batting and it’s paying off. I know if I bat at No3 I’ll get more opportunities, more time to bat.
“What happens sometimes if I bat at No5 is I’ll come in at the 30th over or 40th over, which I felt is not ideal for me.”
The win moves Bangladesh up to fifth spot in the standings with two wins in five games. They will next take on defending champions Australia at Trent Bridge on Thursday.