A recurring theme of Bangladesh’s World Cup campaign has been that Shakib Al Hasan has been head and shoulders above his teammates. Yesterday, during the 106-run loss against England, while the rest of the team ap-peared to be in damage-control mode, first trying in vain to limit England’s scoring and then to overcome scoreboard pressure and the hosts’ finely honed bowling attack, Shakib adapted to conditions and became only the second Bangladesh batsman to hit a World Cup century.
With a lowest score of 64 in the 3 matches so far, Shakib’s 119-ball 121 took him to the top of the run-scorers’ charts in this edition with 260 runs at an average of 86.7.
The number one all-rounder in world cricket is known for out-smarting batsmen with his left-arm spin and his batting is much the same, especially yesterday when -- com-ing in at number three -- he absorbed the early pace pressure from Jofra Archer and Mark Wood and soon found a way to pick his areas and deliveries to score runs at a good rate while his teammates floundered.
“They were quick, but I enjoyed the difficult challenge,” Shakib said in the post-match press conference at the Cardiff Wales Stadium yesterday. “They are the two quickest bowlers in the World Cup. It was tough but I felt very happy about the way I played them.”
He was troubled early by Archer’s bouncers but soon enough, moved inside the line to hook him over fine leg for six.
Just as he found solutions to England, he has found a way to give more to the team by batting at number three, where he has averaged 55.4 since January 2017.
“It was my decision. I had to convince everyone,” Shakib laughingly said. “If I don’t score runs in a single match, they think that I should bat at five. It is working at the mo-ment.
“Having said that, it is just the start. I need to contribute with both bat and ball. I thought [batting at No 3] is a better opportunity to contribute more with the bat. There are plenty of matches left in this tournament.”
It is generally acknowledged that he is the best all-rounder in the world. Perhaps his exalted status in world cricket gave him the belief that he is capable of taking on the best, or perhaps that belief makes him the best. Either way, after a timid display yester-day, the rest of his teammates can use his example well in the coming matches.