When Shakib Al Hasan scored his maiden World Cup century in Cardiff against hosts England on Saturday, he did not embark on a celebratory run. The champion Bangladesh all-rounder just raised his bat to acknowledge the crowd’s applause.
It might give you the impression that he is a kind of player who does not like emotional override. His 121 off 119 balls might not have quite matched England opener Jason Roy’s 153 off 123 balls, but the southpaw’s innings was yet another statement of the positive intent he has been demonstrating over a course of 13 long years since his ODI debut in 2006.
You are allowed to criticise him for his off-the-field attitude -- the latest being mysteriously missing the team photo session prior to the team’s departure for the World Cup.
But on the field, the 33-year-old athlete is a top professional who has only learnt how to give his best day in and day out. His aggression might at times backfire, but this is how he approaches his game, be it with the ball or bat. He is also one of those few Bangladeshi fielders who attacks the ball.
Prior to the World Cup, Shakib set a lofty personal goal of becoming the player-of-the-tournament and he is already on his way towards that target by scoring 260 runs, the highest in the World Cup so far, and scalping three wickets in as many games.
Shakib is a different breed in the Bangladesh ranks. After the heavy defeat against England, the Tigers travelled to Bristol from Cardiff to play their next game against Sri Lanka. It has been reported that the players were still reeling from that punishing defeat.
But those who have closely followed Shakib over the years will tell you that a defeat never depresses Shakib. He is a kind of player who will go out the next day with an intent to cut the ball hard if that was on the fourth stump irrespective of the situation or even if he was coming with a couple of ducks behind him.
In a cutthroat profession, he loathes the idea of different roles for seniors and juniors. To him the role is defined for every member of the team and it is up to each individual to live up to their role irrespective of being a senior or junior.
During the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy, Shakib was having a chat with this reporter while his daughter was dawdling at the team hotel lobby in London. His daughter suddenly tumbled onto the floor. I promptly tried to volunteer to pull his lovely little kid up, but Shakib refrained me and said: “Let her get on her feet by herself.” He was not pretending. It was perhaps something natural that goes with his character.
He is also not the kind of player who cherishes his personal success most. He has always been most engrossed and animated when he sniffs the chance of his team’s success. He has demonstrated that emotional override before.
It was logical from Shakib’s perspective that he did not celebrate his century against England because he knew it may not still win the game for his team.
Bangladesh will take on Sri Lanka in Bristol today. A win will put the Tigers’ World Cup ambitions back on track. Going into the game and beyond, the Tigers need Shakib’s steely resolve to put behind the England disappointment.