Around five months ago, during a freewheeling interview with The Daily Star on the completion of his 10th year in international cricket, Shakib Al Hasan was asked if he had regretted focusing too much on T20s as opposed to Test cricket.
Shakib's immediate response was slightly cold: “If Bangladesh doesn't play Tests, how can people say that I am more focused on T20s?”
His slightly aggressive reply back then suggested that Shakib did not really want to answer that query. After all, it is a tactic that he often uses whenever he faces an uncomfortable question.
Five months on and you are forced to believe that what Shakib had said back then was probably an honest, to-the-point reply. For those who reckon that Shakib has gradually transformed himself into a limited-overs specialist in the last 10 years, his innings yesterday should dispel all those theories.
Yes, it was a typical Shakib knock. He took risks early on by edging a couple above the slip cordon. He was not afraid to go after the wide deliveries, just like he does in limited-overs cricket. But at the same time, the left-handed batsman displayed the immense grit that he possesses by evading the innumerable bouncers fired at him. In one particular over against Neil Wagner he actually went down six times to evade six bouncers. It was a disciplined yet aggressive effort that led Shakib to the magical 217-mark.
He had to win a number of battles yesterday to post the highest ever score by a Bangladeshi batsman and overcoming those obstacles, according to Shakib, was the best part of his innings.
“Honestly speaking, after he [Mitchell Santner] dropped my catch yesterday, I went home and talked to my wife about cricket for a bit in the evening. She has begun to understand cricket these days. I didn't tell her anything but within my head I had a sense of confidence. I was thinking to myself that big players use such opportunities to post big scores.
“But even then, I had to work really hard and go through difficult situations. The most satisfying thing was that I overcame several difficult situations during this innings successfully,” said Shakib.
One of the major driving points that kept Shakib going yesterday were the records that Shakib and Mushfiqur Rahim were breaking one by one during their 359-run stand. And that was also a reason why Shakib did not show a plethora of emotion after reaching his double hundred. Anyone who would have followed him during the Bangladesh Premier League will tell you that he was probably 10 times as excited after winning the BPL last year.
“I don't know why I didn't celebrate too much. I just didn't feel like doing it. The situation was like this -- after you reach one landmark, you set your goal on another and I was just thinking that way. I was thinking about the next achievement,” explained Shakib.
“Towards the end of the innings, I did get a bit tired. But honestly speaking, had I played such an innings during summer in Asia or Bangladesh, I would have been in a far worse condition. I scored 217 runs over here, but I never once changed my gloves,” he added.
He also did not celebrate after crossing Tamim Iqbal's 206, a score that was previously the highest ever posted by a Bangladeshi in Tests. That, of course, was for a different reason.
“I thought Tamim had scored 214 and not 206. But when I ran that single, Tamim started clapping and that's when I came to know that this is the highest score,” said Shakib.