A huge blow to Bangladesh came yesterday morning in the form of news that the nation's ace all-rounder and Test skipper Shakib Al Hasan would miss the New Zealand ODI series, and perhaps the whole tour, because of a left ring finger fracture. Shakib sustained the injury during his side Dhaka Dynamites' 17-run defeat to Comilla Victorians in the BPL final on Friday.
Bangladesh are yet to announce a replacement for the all-rounder ahead of the ODI series starting from February 13, but it is certain that ODI captain Mashrafe Bin Mortaza will have to make a lot of amendments to his plans in New Zealand after the loss of arguably world's best all-rounder. On their last tour of New Zealand in 2016-17, although Bangladesh were whitewashed in all formats, Shakib had some very noteworthy contributions. He finished as the joint highest wicket-taker with five wickets in three ODIs alongside New Zealand pacer Tim Southee. While he had a high score of 59 in ODIs, the most memorable innings for him was in the Tests as he authored a double-ton -- his career best and then Bangladesh's highest Test score of 217 -- in the first Test in Wellington. He also finished as the second-highest run-scorer in the Test series.
It will be close to impossible for Bangladesh to find an adequate replacement, but playing without Shakib has become a frequent reality for Bangladesh and the situation is one with which Mashrafe and Co would be quite familiar.
Since being granted a break from Test cricket during the 2017 South Africa tour, Shakib has missed a chunk of Tests, ODIs and T20Is for Bangladesh owing to injury. He sustained an injury on his left little finger while fielding during Tigers' final of the tri-series against Sri Lanka back in January 2018. The injury eventually ruled the 31-year old out of the ensuing two-Test series and the two-T20I series against visiting Sri Lanka in January-February. Bangladesh, without their premier all-rounder, did not fare well in those matches as the Tigers managed a draw in the first Test but were beaten comprehensively in the second, followed by thumping defeats in T20Is.
After that, although Bangladesh initially included the all-rounder in the squad for the Nidahas Trophy in Sri Lanka in March 2018, he was later ruled out of the tournament as the doctors advised him for an extended period of physiotherapy treatment to his injured finger. However, Shakib was included in the latter part of the tournament and played the last two games, including the final, which Bangladesh lost to India by four wickets.
The left little finger injury would haunt him for a majority of the year as even after seven months, Shakib was forced to fly back home when the injury flared up in the middle of the Asia Cup in September of the same year. Even though Bangladesh managed to win the do-or-die match against Pakistan in the Asia Cup after Shakib had left, the Tigers' Nidahas Trophy final memories came back as they lost to India by three wickets in the final, this time without Shakib.
The fallout from the flare-up was that he missed the three-match ODI series in the month following the Asia Cup and two-match Test series against the visiting Zimbabwe in November. Bangladesh however whitewashed Zimbabwe in the ODIs but only managed a 1-1 Test series draw in his absence. Shakib returned for the West Indies series at home in November-December and made his presence known, guiding Bangladesh to a 2-0 Test series win against the Caribbean outfit -- their first ever Test series triumph at home against West Indies.
Shakib had then played the three ODIS and three T20Is against West Indies in December and also played out the entire sixth edition of the BPL, but it was again another injury in the last game of the tournament that ruled him out of the upcoming New Zealand tour. With mixed results in the past, it remains to be seen how the Tigers fare in one more series without Shakib.