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The talisman of Bangladesh

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Shakib Al Hasan_Bangladesh_CricketEvery underdog team has a player who makes other fans think, "Why wasn't he born in our country?" Shakib Al Hasan is one such player. He would be a part of the playing eleven of any team. Bangladesh boasts a set of players with promise and potential, but there are only a handful of players who have the temperament and consistency to match Shakib.

Making the first appearance in national colors at the age of 19 is no mean feat. And to help the team win, right in the very first match, with fine performances with both bat and ball is certainly a testament to the fact that it was a prodigious talent.

Born in Khulna, Shakib developed his skills as a left-hander at a very early stage. He played for different villages when he was a youngster. He impressed a local umpire, who admitted him to practice with a league club. He started out as a pacer but tried out bowling spin as well. He picked a wicket on the very first delivery he bowled for Islamapur.

The big enchilada of Bangladeshi cricket had impressed the selectors even before he was a regular part of the squad. After his debut series, he was awarded a rookie contract. He made his debut in whites against India less than ten months after his first ODI. He had to wait for a more than a year to make a significant contribution, but the southpaw did it in style. He scored a magnificent half-century, his first in Test cricket and then went on to register his maiden five-wicket haul in the same test, before picking up two more to end the match with figures of 7 for 36. But his valiant effort went down the drain, with New Zealand winning the closely contested match by 3 wickets.

Shakib became the first ever Bangladeshi bowler to register a four-wicket haul in a T20I, a feat he achieved against the West Indies in the inaugural edition of the T20 World Cup.

For a spinner to take a five-wicket haul in overseas conditions, takes a Herculean effort. But Shakib did it with ease, picking up back-to-back five-wicket hauls against South Africa. Though his team was battered, Shakib was Bangladesh's bright spot.

Though he had starts to his innings, Shakib was unable to convert them into big knocks. After almost waiting for 3 years, Shakib got his maiden Test century against New Zealand at Hamilton.

 

Perseverance is crucial for a cricketer, and Shakib is the epitome of patience. He has been a part of the Bangladesh outfit for more than a decade and says that he owes his life to the game. "I don't think about much more than cricket. My life is all about this game, so I am not worried about anything else," said Shakib.

 

The famous upset in the 2007 World Cup was India's shocking defeat at the hands of Bangladesh. It was Shakib whose all-round effort helped pave the way for an improbable victory. But he had a lean patch after the World Cup where he struggled to middle the ball.

When Pakistan toured Bangladesh in 2011, Shakib Al Hasan proved why he is the talisman of his side. In the second Test, he smacked a century and then went on to take six wickets in the first innings. He became the first Bangladeshi player to score a century and take a five-wicket haul in the same Test. Though Bangladesh lost the match, Shakib continued to prove his mettle in the white jersey.

He jumped to the top spot in the all-rounders ranking. He scored a fighting 97 in the second innings against West Indies when they posted a massive score of 648 in their tour of Bangladesh. Barring him and Nasser Hossain, who scored 94, none of the other batsmen could stage a fight as they dwindled and lost the match by 10 wickets.

 

He was awarded the captaincy role in 2009 when he was just 22 years old. He became the youngest Bangladeshi captain. He led the team to their first ever overseas victory and first ever overseas series victory as Bangladesh defeated West Indies 2-0. He was the team's highest wicket-taker in the 2011 Cricket World Cup and was also the third highest run scorer, as Bangladesh exited in the first round. A series defeat to Zimbabwe, just a few months after the World Cup saw the BCB stripping him of the captaincy post.

 

He became the fastest all-rounder to score 1000 runs and take 100 wickets in Tests, before joining the elite company of Hadlee, Imran Khan, and Ian Botham, when he scored a fifty plus and took 10 wickets in the same match. He achieved the feat against Zimbabwe in 2014 when he scored a century in the first innings before going on to take his first ten-wicket haul in a Test.

Shakib is known for his temperament, but he has faced a lot of disciplinary issues. He was banned from playing for the National Team by the Bangladesh Cricket Board who felt that he had 'severe attitude problems'. He also had his differences with the national coach and threatened retirement from all the formats of the game.

But as a person, Shakib is one of the nicest players in the sport. He claims that he hadn't thought of becoming the face of Bangladesh Cricket. "Who knew this would happen? I do see the news and read newspapers, but never really went too deep into reading what is written in the sports pages. I don't think about such things," said Shakib in 2012.

He eclipsed Tamim Iqbal's record of holding the highest individual score by a Bangladeshi in Tests when he blasted a double-century against New Zealand in New Zealand. In the recently concluded Test against Australia, Shakib became only the fourth bowler to register a five-wicket haul against all Test playing nations, after Dale Steyn, Muttiah Muralitharan, and Rangana Herath. He also became the second player to achieve the feat of taking ten wickets and scoring more than fifty runs in the same Test after Richard Hadlee.

His numbers have been the best for all-rounders in Tests, even better than those of R Ashwin and Ben Stokes. He is the only player to have claimed the Number 1 spot for all-rounders in all the formats. He continues to be the face of Bangladesh Cricket as the team continues to develop. They would need the services of their stalwart all-rounder in order to become successful in the coming years.

 

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