Shakib Al Hasan sure knows how to make comebacks. In his first Test since being pardoned by the BCB following his suspension, he took a six-wicket haul in Dhaka. In his first ODI since then, his hundred rescued Bangladesh and his four-wicket haul sealed the team's 87-run victory over Zimbabwe.
When Shakib was first banned, there was a lot of discussion about how he would have to change as a person. Both charges against him were due to his hot-headedness, and several voices were certain he would not improve his behaviour within six months.
But even his harshest critics would have have noticed a quieter, more smiling Shakib over the last few months. It might be forced, or he may have understood what he is expected to do. After Friday's first ODI, where he dominated most of the game, Shakib admitted that his calmer avatar was paying rich dividends. He also talked of regret, which was telling for someone tagged as domineering.
"Now I feel that I am calmer, especially while batting today and throughout the Test series," Shakib said. "I was relaxed and calm. I think this caught the eye. It is difficult to say specifically [what's different], but I can feel it.
"Maturity is important. I think that works for me. I have to continue with it, not just a match or two. I think from now on, I can't make any of those mistakes. When I think of my career that has gone by, there is a bit of regret. I didn't bat as well back then as I am doing today. I thought that if I use my head a little more, maybe I could have scored 500-1,000 runs more, had I batted like this in the past in Tests and ODIs."
Shakib's 101 off 99 showed glimpses of this maturity. He started off with an edged boundary, but soon found himself supporting Mominul Haque, who raced to 31. But once the partnership broke in the 20th over, Shakib took more singles and twos to let Mushfiqur Rahim settle down. After hitting consecutive fours in the 24th and 25th over, Shakib waited a bit more. After reaching 50 off 56 balls, the boundaries came a little faster, as he opened up in the 148-run, fifth-wicket partnership.
"There was no specific plan. But it was important not to lose wicket at that moment, and building a partnership was necessary. I have the confidence that if I stay at the wicket longer, I have the ability to cover for the deliveries. These days there is one extra fielder inside the circle, so there are more gaps. You can [increase your strike-rate] at any time if you are set on a good wicket."
While Shakib did not explain why he celebrated his century with an air-drive towards the crowd, he spoke of regret at not taking a fifth wicket which would have put him in a very select group of three players - alongside Viv Richards and Paul Collingwood - to take a five-for and score a hundred in the same game. Instead, he became the 12th man to get a hundred and four-for.