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Shakib Al Hasan began the day by becoming Bangladesh's highest wicket-taker in Tests; he ended it by missing a century by three runs
Mohammad Isam in Khulna
November 24, 2012
Shakib Al Hasan was out to a rash shot off what was eventually the last ball of the fourth day in Khulna. He had made 97, and walked back admonishing himself and not his luck. His sizeable contribution, however, had prevented Bangladesh from being finished off inside four days. From 82 for 5, Shakib saved his team from embarrassment, at least for another day, and before that effort with the bat, he had become Bangladesh's highest wicket-taker in Tests, with 102 wickets.
Shakib wasn't able to speak to reporters after the day's play because he had reportedly injured his right shin and needed a scan. A man of few words, it is unlikely Shakib would have been able to convey what he felt after breaking Mohammad Rafique's record of 100 Test wickets, and after missing his third century.
Not long after he had completed his 52nd over, Shakib was needed in the middle once again, because of what transpired in the first 45 minutes of Bangladesh's innings. The standout aspect of Shakib's innings was how he did not get flustered by the happenings around him. After watching senior batsman Shahriar Nafees and his captain Mushfiqur Rahim fall to terrible shots, Shakib began a 144-run association with Nasir Hossain.
As the day wore on, however, and Shakib neared his hundred, he may have got more anxious. Hossain said later that his partner had been eager to reach his century. If Shakib hadn't fallen when he did, there may have been an extra over before stumps were called. Shakib had, it seemed, given himself little time to reach his milestone.
He had been patiently rebuilding Bangladesh's innings, and then moved from 72 to 86 with two straight hits, a four and a six, and a clipped four to fine leg, all off Sunil Narine. After moving into the nineties with a streaky boundary off Fidel Edwards, Shakib played six more deliveries before giving it away to Veerasammy Permaul. He reacted with hurt rather than the sheer anger when he fell for 89 in Mirpur. It was the third time he'd been dismissed in the 90s, to go with an unbeaten 96.
"Shakib Al Hasan became what he is by playing like this," Hossain said. "There's a lot to learn from Shakib, and I don't think anyone else is able to give such services to Bangladesh. I think Shakib is mentally very strong.
"When Shakib bhai hit [Sunil] Narine in that over, I understood he was willing to complete the hundred today. Before that over I had told him to just pick the singles and reach the hundred. A lot of things work in your mind when you reach that stage."
Despite the dismissal for 97 or because of it, it is Shakib's bowling that stood out on the day, as he completed a milestone he had been waiting for, for 11 months. By dismissing Permaul, Shakib went past left-arm spinner Rafique, who led Bangladesh's attack between 2000 and 2008, as his country's top wicket-taker. Shakib took over the mantle of leader immediately after Rafique's retirement and has been similarly over-bowled. Yet he has ensured the quality of his batting has not been compromised.
He had been struggling with the ball during this series, so when he got his first wicket in his 49th over, there was a lot of relief. Only Shakib could have waited so long for his wicket, and he began the fourth day with new vigor and a lot of flight. Two balls later, he had Sammy caught at slip, his 100th wicket, and in his next over he had Permaul caught at short cover. Narine's wicket gave Shakib figures of 4 for 37 from 14 overs in the morning session.
"I didn't think of celebrating 100 wickets. I was just relieved that I finally started getting wickets today," Shakib said. "I was forcing myself to bowl better today."
The responsibilities Shakib performs for Bangladesh can be a drain on physical and mental strength. The size of his workload also poses an injury risk. Shakib, however, will have to carry on.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's correspondent in BangladeshFeeds: Mohammad Isam
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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