There’s a bowling all-rounder, batting all-rounder & there’s Shakib Al Hasan!

The 1980s was the time when the all-rounders ruled the game more than any other decade. Shakib Al Hasan definitely belongs to that league. Of course, nobody would agree with me because he isn’t a pacer and he doesn’t play against top teams more often.

People do mock him for performing against the weaker teams alone and for throwing the wicket away against the top teams, but Shakib Al Hasan doesn’t really care. He plays with his whole heart, gives his 100% no matter what or who.

Sometimes, his instinct works, sometimes it doesn’t, but he doesn’t regret because of the hard work he put into everything. Still, when you look at the scores on papers, you definitely will see Shakib’s name right there at the top for a thing or two. Unfortunately, cricket is a team game.

***

There is a bowling all-rounder, a batting all-rounder and there is Shakib Al Hasan. He is both. Somedays this and somedays that. In a few rare occasions, he turns in as an ‘ordinary’ Hasan; Most of the days, he prefers an extra to his ordinary.

Shakib is easily the best player Bangladesh has ever produced. Playing the game at the highest level for years now, his unconventional approach might remind people of Bangladesh’s veteran Habibul Bashar, but Shakib adds a bit more backlift and a powerful backhand. The backhand allows him to play strong shots right back at the bowler-something as powerful yet elegant as David Nalbandian’s backhand.

Nobody in this world teases the batsmen as Shakib Al Hasan does. He walks in slowly, flights the ball, tempts the batsmen to go over the top and he gets the better of them. There were days the batsmen read him well, destroys him mercilessly. Still, there are no doubts about his class, and his numbers say so.

Best players lead from the front, they say, and Shakib wanted to do the same this year as he wanted to play top of the order to play through long innings, to take the team home safe. He somehow managed to convince his team, and the coach to play at number three, a position where the team’s best player (in most of the teams, yes) normally bats. With no second thoughts, he is the team’s best player maybe not the batsman, maybe not the bowler but he is still the best player from the team. Batting at number three, Shakib has all the time to play his game perfectly rather than playing cameos while coming down the order. He doesn’t have to hit every single delivery, can rotate the strike, play with soft hands to steal an extra run and most importantly, can score runs along the ground rather than the rash hitting through which he normally throws his wicket away and puzzle everyone.

Shakib’s role in the team is not easy after all. He has to be there for his batsmen and for his bowlers. He is running old as well. He is 32. Yet the amount of fitness he shows throughout the hundred overs is phenomenal as well. He runs, bowls, dives, fields, pick wickets, scores ton and do checks all the box. The one box that hasn’t checked yet is lifting the World Cup or any other major trophy, and for sure he can give himself an opportunity this time if he keeps outperforming the opponents like this.

Shakib cannot do it all alone. He needs support, and over the years, Bangladesh has grown into a team that has the hunger to win. This hunger has helped them in providing shockers, to slowly move from the underdogs to equals. Most of the shockers have either come from the icon Shakib who has improved a lot as a cricketer or from the players who look up to him, the players who Shakib schooled, literally.

To more such shockers that await us. To more such flawless innings. To more such teases with the ball. Joy Bangla.

Keep rising, Tigers. Because you deserve it. For the Hard Work. For the hunger. Keep Rising to make the game beautiful. Better.