With bat, with ball, Shakib does it all
Shakib Al Hasan's five-for and half-century on the second day of the second and final Test against West Indies was a repeat of a not-too-distant memory. His fourth double in the last three years helped Bangladesh twice on the day: first to prevent a big total by the opposition and then to lift his team from a desperate collapse.
The previous three times he achieved the feat, it came in different circumstances; twice in 2008 (against New Zealand and Sri Lanka), he couldn't force a victory with the first instance in Chittagong being the heartbreaker. The third time, Shakib famously took his side to a landmark victory in Grenada in 2009, missing out on a century as he had finished the fourth-innings chase slightly earlier. Though it came against a second-string West Indies line-up concocted after a players' strike, Shakib's effort underlined his standing as a world-class all-rounder who could take his side to a win.
His innings with the bat on Sunday began under utmost pressure, akin to Chittagong when his second-innings 71 came during a disintegration and against Sri Lanka when centurion Mohammad Ashraful had fallen after he arrived at the crease during a humungous second-innings chase.
This time around, the normally cool Shakib was up against a hat-trick ball from a rampant Fidel Edwards who had just removed Raqibul Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim with sheer pace. Shakib kept out the yorker, only just, and went about his business despite the state of the scoreboard.
He opened his account by caressing Edwards through cover for four, though the shot was more of a warning for his trigger-happy team-mates who had faltered in the preceding 30 minutes. What distanced Shakib from the rest though was the fifth ball he faced.
A huge swathe of emptiness that was the leg-side field was hardly used by the Bangladesh batsmen before him. Shakib, who is often pragmatic, mostly technically correct and almost always unruffled, tucked into Edwards's short ball with a pull that was as much sensible as was Shakib who went on to handle anything above his waist with a lot of logic. After he reached his half-century, Shakib laid into Darren Sammy for three boundaries in an over - two placed square on the off side and one driven through mid-on.
His dismissal to legspinner Devendra Bishoo, with Bangladesh requiring another 13 to avoid the follow-on, was slightly disappointing because he was the first person who knew that the Mirpur track had begun to take turn.
His first act of the day had been to remove Carlton Baugh, who edged a delivery that bounced a bit more than he expected. Sammy's back leg tripped onto his stumps as Shakib began to take control of the West Indies tail. Soon, Kirk and Fidel Edwards became his fourth and fifth victims as his second spell on the day yielded four wickets for just nine runs in 4.4 overs.
When Bishoo's big turner found the large gap between Shakib's bat and pad, though, it ended hopes of a rare five-for and century on the same day. His Bangladesh Krira Shikkha Protishtan protégé Nasir Hossain followed in his footsteps with his temperament but the unnecessary run-out with Naeem Islam dampened an otherwise faultless final session. Unbeaten on 34 and having taken a superb catch to start off the day, Nasir would have to just look across the dressing room for inspiration.
Mohammad Isam is senior sports reporter at the Daily Star in Dhaka