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Shakib’s bat talked when the Tigers needed it the most……. 

After a disheartening campaign in the Test series, Bangladesh had their hopes pinned on the ODIs to seek revival of fortunes. They were completely outplayed in all three departments in the Test series, and their confidence was shattered. Saying that Bangladesh had a huge psychological barrier to overcome in the ODIs would be an understatement.

After that kind of performance, the momentum was with West Indies and the onus of making a comeback was on Bangladesh. It wouldn’t have been a wise thing to write off Bangladesh in ODIs, it’s a different ball game altogether and the team has come a long way in this format.  The four most experienced players in the side, stepped up to pull off an incredible win just when the chips were down.

Their star performer, Shakib Al Hasan, didn’t have a great outing in his Test comeback but did well in the second game and signs of improvement were there.  Coming into ODIs, Bangladesh needed some push, which was rightly provided by the senior players including Shakib. It is often said, when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Shakib once again proved why he is among the best all-rounders in contemporary cricket and did a fantastic job with the bat.

Bangladesh won the toss and elected to bat first. They got off to a rocky start when Anamul Haque was undone for a duck by skipper Jason Holder. Another Bangladeshi collapse looked on the cards; this has also been the template on the tour so far. One of Bangladesh’s most experienced batsmen Shakib promoted himself at three, even though his ideal batting position should have been at number five.

But I guess, the promotion up the order has been made to make the best use of his batting talent and in a sense, it’s a risky ploy as well, as because, on any given day Shakib’s failure at the top might pile on the pressure in the middle and lower middle order.

Alos read: Why Shakib Al Hasan should bat at number 5

After coming out to bat at number 3, Shakib stitched a match-winning partnership to help Bangladesh post a challenging total against the formidable West Indies side.  Tamim and Shakib accounted for a record 207-run stand between them for the second wicket and laid the foundation.

It was a challenge for Shakib to bat higher up the order, but he soaked in the pressure and delivered a gem of an innings. The surface was not easy to bat on; the bowlers were getting enough help from the surface. But Shakib not only negotiated the pumped bowling attack, but also got the scoreboard ticking.  Their 207-run partnership is not only the pair’s highest but also Bangladesh’s second-highest for any wicket in ODIs- Shakib and Tamim’s previous best partnership was of 144 runs against Sri Lanka.

Shakib started off cautiously, he was quick to reassess the situation and read the conditions perfectly. He realized the need to bid his time out in the middle in order to score runs. Shakib is known for his manic approach and aggression with the bat, but this outing was rather contradictory. He was sluggish and scored just six boundaries for his 97, but runs were difficult to come by.

Shakib was unfortunate to miss out on a century, he deserved one, but Devendra Bishoo got the better of him while he was on the brink of a ton. He curbed his natural instincts and altered his game to meet the conditions.  Just when Shakib was all set to launch an attack on West Indies, the partnership was broken. But Bangladesh did well to belt 279 runs by the end of 50 overs.

West Indies had the batting to chase down 280, but Bangladeshi bowlers did well to restrict the star-studded line-up to 231. The fact that only one West Indies batsmen managed to cross the 50-run mark speaks about the kind of impact Shakib and Tamim had. Bangladesh needed this kind of effort in order to gain some momentum and move ahead.

Shakib has been in good touch in ODIs this year, in five innings, he has scored 260 runs at a staggering average of 52. With him back in form, and all the primary guns firing, Bangladesh will be the team to beat henceforth. The pressure is now on West Indies. A team’s best batsman bats at number three and Shakib has adjusted to the position pretty well. It will be interesting to see if he continues to do so in the games to come, but Bangladesh shouldn’t tinker with the combination that worked for them.

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