'It hasn't quite sunk in yet' - Shakib
On Saturday, Shakib Al Hasan, fresh from taking six wickets in New Zealand's first innings, was asked whether he considered himself as a batting or bowling allrounder. "I consider getting a 70 more important [than six wickets]," Shakib said then. On Sunday he would have wished for 29 more, but his 71 put Bangladesh in a commanding position.
It is Shakib's bowling, though, that has got him in the record books; his figures of 25.5-7-36-7 are the best innings haul for a Bangladesh bowler. "It hasn't quite sunk in yet," he said. "Maybe when I retire from the game, or in a few days, time I will think 'Hey, I have got the best bowling record for Bangladesh' and feel great about it."
He had only three wickets in six Tests wickets prior to this match, and Shakib said he would focus more on his bowling from now on. "I didn't think about it [bowling so well] that much. I guess it was a gift from God because I don't work that much on my bowling. That's why I had said yesterday that scoring a 70 is more important to me. However, from now on, I think I'll give more importance to bowling. I have always worked hard at batting and will continue to do so."
Shakib's all-round performance - he even pulled off a stunning catch to dismiss Jeetan Patel on the second day - has put Bangladesh on course for their second Test win. "It feels really great. When you bat, bowl and field well, and are of service to the team, then the feeling is always great," he said. "From the position we are in, if we can take all the chances that come our way then we will win Inshallah."
Shakib's bowling performance had helped Bangladesh gain a 74-run lead in the first innings. However, a top-order collapse nearly frittered away the advantage before he consolidated the lead with the help of vital partnerships with Mushfiqur Rahim and Naeem Islam. Mushfiqur, who scored 79 in the first innings, chipped in with a useful 121-ball 32. He later praised Shakib, with whom he added 56 for the sixth wicket after Bangladesh were reduced to 71 for 5.
"He is a very important member of the side. We have seen his ability in the one-day matches and we expect a lot from him," Mushfiqur said. "Now he has delivered in a Test match also. That is good for him and also for the team. Here he has bowled well in the first innings and then batted beautifully in the second innings. I hope he will bowl as well in the second innings and set us up for something special."
The pitch, which has offered considerable turn and bounce, hasn't cracked open as expected but Mushfiqur felt a target around 280-300 would be ideal. Bangladesh, at stumps on the third day, led by 258 with two wickets left in their second innings.
"It [the pitch] hasn't changed in character that much especially in the wicket-to-wicket corridor. There are rough areas on the sides and there has been some uneven bounce but I don't think wickets have fallen because of that," he said. "If we hadn't lost those two wickets towards the end then it would have been a lot better. I can't say that we are in a good position still because our target is to get a lead of 280 to 300. We won't be safe until we manage that."
New Zealand's highest score in the fourth innings of a Test is 451, when Nathan Astle scored the fastest double-century against England. However, they have successfully chased only one target over 300, and their best match-winning chase away from home is 160 for 2 against Australia in 1986 and in the subcontinent it is 82 for 5 against in Lahore in 1969. However, New Zealand did bat out 135 overs against India in Mohali in 1999 to force a draw, but Mushfiqur felt if Bangladesh got more than 275-280, and bowl like they did in the first innings, then they could "definitely expect something good".