Cricket

Published on April 6th, 2018 | by Faisal Caesar

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Shakib Al Hasan: The flawed genius

Can you dislike Shakib Al Hasan? Yes, you can! But not for a long time. He will force you to become his number 1 fan. He is a flawed genius!

In any sporting conversations, using the word ‘Genius’ is a common practice among the sports fans and critics. Talk about Lionel Messi, well, the word genius would come first than any other words. Talk about Sachin Tendulkar, in the twinkle of an eye, a cricket fan would use the word genius. For the likes of Messi and Tendulkar, the portrait of a genius is that of a saint – gentle, calm, soft-spoken, well behaved and master of his task. For the likes of Messi and Tendulkar, names like Cristiano Ronaldo, Garrincha and Virat Kohli or Shakib Al Hasan get overshadowed as because, these people are the flawed genius, misunderstood genius!

There is always a beauty in being a flawed genius. I always felt, it is always extremely exciting to watch a flawed genius on-song rather than the saints. A genius is not half as thrilling as its prodigal twin – flawed genius. The Saints earn the respect and accolades, but when the matter is about getting astonished, genuine affection and overflowing love; you always lavish these on a flawed genius.

Shakib, the boy from Magura, is more often overshadowed by the saint-like-figure of Mashrafe Bin Mortaza and his controversies. The local press sells Mashrafe to fill their pockets and shrug off their identity crisis by taking photos and selfies with Mash and they lift up their click-bait journalism by tarnishing the image of Shakib. It’s a common practice here in Bangladesh. But very few could understand how bigger a genius Shakib is. And how badly is he misunderstood and misrepresented at times!

Shakib’s behavior is not praiseworthy. At times, he is like a school kid who enters in a toy shop and brings the whole shop if he is not gifted his favourite toy. Then there are times when, his off the field antics simply let the image of this game and Bangladesh down. But, still, Shakib dominates the consciousness of the Bangladeshi fans. Just like Cristiano, Shakib would brush away all his arrogance with just one masterstroke – a thing which a saint cannot do more often.

On one fine morning at Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium, Dhaka, Bangladesh discovered themselves in the soup at 10 for 3 against Australia. The young and energetic Pat Cummins put chills down the spine of Bangladeshi top order batsmen. Shakib came out to bat at number 5 and saw an Empire lay in ruins all around him with ominous signs of a collapse which would only make Bangladesh a butt of jokes for its harsh critics. The situation demanded counter-punch as none could script such better than a flawed genius.

Shakib Al Hasan in action against Australia, first Test, Mirpur, 2017. Image Courtesy: ESPNcricinfo

After a short period of quietness, the southpaw unleashed some exquisite strokes on the green canvas of Mirpur. There was no respite for Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon and the dangerous Cummins. He caressed the offside field with an absolute surgical precision while the back foot stroke-play was similar to Ian Botham against Australia at Leeds in 1981 – a treat for the cricketing Gods. The collapse was arrested as the fourth wicket added 155 valuable runs.

On the second day, Shakib’s arm-ball and well-pitched-up deliveries ended Australia’s innings quickly as the Tigers took a healthy lead. They gave Australia 264 to win in the fourth innings and David Warner was in no mood to digest a defeat. He took the attack back to Bangladesh as at one point Australia were cruising. Yet again, the situation demanded the flawed genius to showcase his expertise.

Shakib trapped Warner lbw. The Tiger had smelt the taste of blood and flesh and immediately, Shakib sharpened his claws and teeth to tear Australian middle order apart. 158 for 3 transformed into 199 for 8 – a reminiscence of Imran Khan’s spell against India at Karachi in 1982-83. Cummins’ dished out a brief resistance, but Bangladesh laughed the last smile. Thanks to the genius of Shakib.

Shakib Al Hasan celebrates the fall of an Australian wicket, first Test, Mirpur, 2017. Image Courtesy: Hindustan Times

Then one cannot forget his smartness to tame MS Dhoni at the same venue in 2015. The limelight was stolen by Mustafizur Rahman, but very few realized what Dhoni could do if he was not dismissed at a very crucial juncture of the match. Shakib simply toyed with Dhoni for a while with flight and discipline. The calmest and coolest captain in the world was pressurised and the end result was – MS Dhoni c Mushfiqur Rahim b Shakib Al Hasan 40 off 40 balls.

This is the genius of Shakib. He strikes when it is needed the most.

Just when you have given up, a flawed genius like Shakib would think otherwise. He would walk around the field lazily with dropped shoulders and would not even give his teammates to realise what is going through his mind. Just beneath the skull, the nervous pathways of brain would transmit various information and sum up a lethal idea – the idea of turning things around on the basis of super-confidence and super-skill – a deadly combination for which one cannot hate Shakib for a long time.

Watching Shakib Al Hasan bat in full flow and bowl in an attacking fashion is like experiencing a volcano to erupt or a sea to get angry, transforming into a tsunami to engulf everything on its way. At times, the mechanism of batting and bowling don’t remain just a matter of technical subject, but it becomes all about the forces of nature – the dance of the Shiva!

Can you dislike Shakib? Yes, you can. It’s your life, your rules. But how long can you dislike him? Shakib will force you to love him. He will force you to become his number 1 fan. Shakib is a genius in his own way. He has erased the fine line between genius and insanity long ago while being spotted as a young prodigy by the local coaches. And which has made the Shakib of today – a flawed genius.

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About the Author

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Faisal Caesar is a doctor by profession and passionate cricket writer. He is the cricket editor of Cricketsoccer.



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