4 days of Test cricket saw 942 runs being scored, 40 wickets being fallen and the margin of victory was just 20 runs, such was the intensity of the first Test. Bangladesh wrote a new chapter in their Test history by beating the formidable Australian side for the first time in their cricket journey. And their star all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan played a huge role behind this success not only with the ball but also with the bat.
Prior to the start of the Test series, Shakib Al Hasan was quoted by The Guardian saying, “We knew that we have this ability, and we needed that belief, and we can only get this belief by winning matches. But there is no shortage of self-belief at this moment. Now we feel that we are very much unbeatable at home – doesn’t matter who we are playing against. So this is the belief that makes a team a very good team and a winning team.”
Bangladesh has developed into a force to be reckoned, and Shakib has played a pivotal role in his team’s astronomical rise. This was Shakib’s 50th Test outing and he ensured it was a memorable one. 84 crucial runs in the first innings and 10 wickets in the match, this was the perfect script for Shakib to embrace the milestone.
After the end of Day 3, Shakib Al Hasan didn’t believe that Bangladesh could beat Australia. While speaking to the media after the game, he said,”Last night, I did not believe that we can win today. I really did not.”
Australia needed 156 runs more to win with eight wickets to spare and most importantly, they had a firing David Warner at the crease. But this was the kind of wicket, where a wicket or two could trigger a batting collapse. And Shakib did the needful.
On the penultimate day, Australia looked determined and Warner continued his assault. When Australia needed 107 more runs to win, Shakib made deep inroads in Australia’s batting order by getting rid of Warner and Steve Smith in quick succession. The partnership was broken and both the set batsmen were back into the pavilion. There was an opportunity to be grabbed and Bangladeshi bowlers ensured they didn’t let it slip.
Warner was playing a magical innings and threatened to take the game away, but Shakib weaved magic when his team needed the most. Steven Smith knows a way to score runs in these conditions. He was outstanding in India and looked all set here to get a tenacious 60 or 70 to carry the team over the line, but it wasn’t to be. Shakib turned the game on its head by inducing an edge of Smith’s willow.
Few overs later, Matthew Wade fell prey to Shakib’s persistence on 4 after which, Glenn Maxwell’s dismissal swung the game in Bangladesh’s favour. Australia needed just 66 runs to win when Shakib got the better of Maxwell. He is the kind of a player, who could have turned the complexion of the game with a brisk 40 or even 50, but was undone by Shakib on 14.
Australia were in comfortable position at one stage and they are a side, which doesn’t fumble a lot and know how to win matches from this position. Saying that Shakib was outstanding in the Test, would be an understatement.
One of the key reasons behind Australia losing the encounter was lack of big runs in the first innings. Bangladesh would also have been in precarious situation had Shakib and Tamim not stitched the key partnership. Bangladesh’s top-order was undone by Pat Cummins and were in hot water when Shakib came to the rescue alongside Tamim Iqbal. The duo took their time and helped Bangladesh post a competitive total.
After an impressive run with the bat, Shakib was brimming with confidence. He replicated similar magic with the ball, accounting for five Australian wickets further helping his side gain a healthy 43-run lead in the first innings. Although he failed to make an impact with the bat in the second but scripted a solid turnaround with the ball.
Shakib once again proved his worth as an all-rounder. He has been on a roll in this calendar year. He is the highest run-scorer for Bangladesh as well as the leading wicket-taker in Test cricket. Shakib is a veteran in the side and a lot was expected from a player of his stature and experience in the big Test against Australia. He did deliver and did more than what was expected out of him.
An impactful all-rounder is like gold in any format as he brings a lot of depth and stability to the table. Shakib has done the job well for Bangladesh over the years. He isn’t satisfied yet and looks hungry for more, which makes him an asset. As of now, Shakib and Co. are eyeing a series win by winning the second game at Chittagong.
At present, Shakib is sitting at the pinnacle off the list of ICC Test all-rounders. He also became the fourth bowler after Muttiah Muralitharan, Dale Steyn and Rangana Herath to take fifers against nine Test playing nations, when he recorded figures of 5 for 68 in the first innings. This was also the eighth occasion in Shakib’s glorious career, where he scored a fifty and chipped five wickets in an innings. He now sits just behind Ian Botham, who leads the charts with 11. These milestones are a testament how Shakib has been an integral part of Bangladesh’s rise. They are the Tigers who have just sharpened their claws.
Keep shining Shakib Al Hasan!