'Had to work really hard for this century' - Shakib
It was ironical that a run-out ended Shakib Al Hasan's innings that was so solidly built on patience and thinking on his feet. He made 144 in nearly six hours that spanned five sessions, two of which went wicketless. But instead of focusing on how it all ended, a DVD of this innings would be worth it for the sheer quality of the innings.
When Mushfiqur Rahim tucked Umar Gul off his hips into the vacant midwicket area, there was a single for the taking. But the captain took a few steps forward and called late, leading to hesitation and by the time Shakib turned back, Taufeeq Umar broke the stumps with a direct hit. The error was Mushfiqur's and Shakib's reaction was a natural expression of a man who had battled the conditions and the opponents.
"Nobody wants to get out like that so I am slightly disappointed, but I am happy with the runs I have scored," Shakib said. "Run-out is also part of the game, it happens."
This was the fifth longest stint at the crease by a Bangladesh batsman, and easily Shakib's longest innings. Most of those in front of him in this list were picked and recognised for their ability to bat long. His only other Test century came in the second innings against New Zealand in 2010, a three-hour knock that was on par with most Test hundreds in terms of time. However, this knock in Mirpur began on the first day and he knew that one mistake could prove costly for the entire team.
"I would keep this century ahead of the other one. I had to work really hard for this. I batted with the tail-enders in Hamilton and the situation was different there," Shakib said.
"The first century is always special but this one's the most satisfying, I had phases when I had to check my shots. I have batted a long time for this century," said Shakib, whose ability to pick singles (63, more than half the team's 118) was another lesson for his team-mates.
Of the 15 boundaries during the 242-ball innings, Shakib hit just one on the second day. Perhaps the situation and the bowling attack was taken into consideration, but he let Mushfiqur find his feet during their 82-run sixth wicket stand. They batted out the shortened first session of 21 overs without fuss.
For the past two years, Bangladesh had lost a wicket when they were nearing a break. But in two days, they had as many wicket-less sessions, thereby reversing the trend. The last session of the first day and the first on the next is often critical for Bangladesh when they bat first and make a good start.
Shakib mentioned how the team has had to start "all over again" due to the long breaks between Test series.
"I don't think we are going backwards. The trouble is when we get to play Tests after long breaks," Shakib said. "We have to start everything anew when we play Tests after 2-3 months. It takes an innings or two to understand the situation.
"If we could play regularly, it wouldn't be a problem. You can see that we played Tests regularly before taking the 14-month break. Our performance was better at that time." Shakib regretted not carrying on during the second day, and the thought of a possible double-century crossed his mind.
"If I say I don't have it [regrets] I would be wrong. But I didn't target that I have to score X number of runs. I wanted to bat as long as possible. If I could have batted all day, I would have gotten the double-century," he said.
But Shakib is a hard man to impress. When asked if Bangladesh had gotten rid of their mental block after their vastly improved first-innings performance, he said that he would talk about it after the second innings.
Mohammad Isam is senior sports reporter at the Daily Star in Dhaka