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Masterful Shakib does it again

Shams Rahman
05 Dec 2022 00:00:00 | Update: 05 Dec 2022 14:34:18
Masterful Shakib does it again

Shakib Al Hasan’s first ball in the first One-Day International against India looked like an innocent one. A slightly flighted delivery on the leg stump that turned a little and Rohit Sharma defended it with ease.

Only if it was.

Shakib’s plan came into use on the next delivery, when he turned to the biggest gun in his arsenal, the arm delivery, which pitched on off stump and had no flight. Rohit, still getting over that first delivery, played all over the second, and saw his stumps rattled.

One ball later, he bowled one outside off stump, seemingly on the plate for Virat Kohli. But the ball stopped on the pitch, leaving Kohli’s going through his shot early and hitting it in the air. The rest was done by a brilliant Liton Das, who flew and made a goalkeeper-esque save, probably showing off his life as a wicketkeeper.

Those two wickets broke the back of the Indian batting early on and they were rattled, something they could not recover from.

In the end, the match was won by Mehidy Hasan Miraz’s heroics. But Shakib displayed one more time that despite his days getting fewer in international cricket, the mastery, the magic, and the guile were not going anywhere.

His third wicket was nothing much as Washington Sundar tried to reverse sweep him, and gave an easy catch to Ebadot Hossain at short third man.

The fourth wicket, though, was once again a thing of beauty. The ball drifted in, leaving Shardul Thakur thinking that it would go straight on with the arm. And again, only if it did.

The ball turned ever so slightly, meaning it had enough to miss Shardul’s bat, but not his stumps.

And for the fifth, Deepak Chahar did not have an answer to Shakib’s straight-on deliveries that have left many batters bemused by trapping them LBW.

Shakib would have had his hands on the player of the match award if not for Miraz’s miraculous knock, but there’s no question about the fact that the mercurial all-rounder preferred the win over the individual award.

For Shakib, this was a fresh breath of air in a year where he had been struggling with the ball. Before this match, he had only picked up eight wickets in six matches at an average of 30.75.

With this five-wicket haul, Shakib, at the age of 35 years and 255 days, became the oldest Bangladesh player to take five wickets in an ODI, going past the record of Mohammad Rafique at 35 years and 199 days.

This was his fourth five-wicket haul in the format, the second-most for Bangladesh, only behind Mustafizur Rahman who has five.

Shakib’s figures of 5-36 was also the best bowling figure by a left-arm spinner against India, beating Ashley Giles’ 5-57 in 2002.

It was a match of milestones, and Shakib’s behaviour on the pitch suggested that he was enjoying all of it. And with that joy, Bangladesh’s best-ever all-rounder handed them an advantage in a crucial series against India.

But one thing looms for Bangladesh cricket more than ever now. With Shakib’s age not going backwards, it might not be long before he decides to hang up his kit.

What will Bangladesh do then? Where will they find that mastery?