DLF Indian Premier League
Shakib in the form of his life
At the moment, it seems as though nothing can stop Shakib Al Hasan. With two ‘man-of-the-tournament’ awards in the Bangladesh Premier League and the Asia Cup, a vital contribution in the Indian Premier League and a possible signing with former English county champions Essex, Shakib, unlike the Magura Express, is on a rol l this year.
It would be an overstatement if one were to say that the IPL brought the best out of the left-handed all-rounder. The tournament, however, did highlight the qualities that have kept him on top of the rankings for such a long time. It has also brought to light the new additions to his bowling armoury.
By now it’s quite obvious that players from weaker international cricket teams need to fight extra hard to play in the IPL. Considering the fact that the Kolkata Knight Riders had a long list of foreign players which included the likes of Sunil Narine and Jacques Kallis, it was always going to be difficult for Shakib to get into the playing eleven. To no one’s surprise, he did just that.
Shakib played a more supporting role in the IPL this year. With Narine dominating the bowling attack, it was up to him to stem the run flow. After contributing to the initial victories of KKR, one bad game led to his downfall. This followed a series of matches where the likes of Marchant de Lange and Brendan McCullum were selected ahead of him.
However, despite being dropped after the first few games, he fought his way back into the squad with a match-winning performance against the Pune Warriors. He responded to his captain’s call by bowling in the Powerplay — a task that he is not used to — and ended up getting the priceless scalps of Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar. Such was the determination that Shakib went on to find a place in the side for the final.
Perhaps the most refreshing change was his ability to bowl the pinpoint yorkers, a skill that will definitely help Mushfiqur Rahim’s side in the ICC World Twenty20s to take place in Sri Lanka later this year. Even Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s much anticipated “helicopter shot” couldn’t do much damage in the last over, bowled by Shakib, in the final.
Unfortunately, the Bangladesh Cricket Board hasn’t been able to complement Shakib’s good run. The left-hander’s current form may be encouraging; however, the two-month long gap in Bangladesh’s domestic cricket has kept several national players out of practice. While the upcoming tours to Europe and Zimbabwe may prepare the national team for the ICC World Twenty20s, domestic cricket continues to suffer.
While the IPL may not have seen the best of Shakib, it did show his resilience and prove that he is an even better player when under pressure, which are the trademark characteristics of great cricketers.
-With The Daily Star input