Shakib Al Hasan
Mohammad Abdullah , Staff Reporter
Sharjah: As the World Cup draws close to knockout stages, Bangladesh have heated up the race for the last-four spots with their never-say-die attitude and gritty performances.
The duel for the fourth spot has become more intense as three teams are separated by only two points. Bangladesh have already sent the standings into turmoil with two upset wins against South Africa and West Indies.
And the one man who has been at the helm of the affairs is the experienced all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan. He has been in the stupendous form with both the bat and the ball, notching up 476 runs and 10 wickets. He smashed two brilliant centuries and three fifties in six innings.
No player has scored over 400 runs and taken 10 or more wickets in any previous editions.
In the past seven editions of the cricketing extravaganza, four players have been named man of the tournament for their all-round exploits.
Sanath Jayasuriya guided Sri Lanka to glory in 1996, scoring 221 runs and bagging seven wickets while in 1999 it was Lance Klusener of South Africa who ruled the roost with 281 runs and 17 scalps.
Proteas might have gone on to win the World Cup, had Hershel Gibbs not dropped the then Australian captain Steve Waugh in a premature celebration, which not only cost South Africa the match but also the title.
In 2003, Sachin Tendulkar scored 700 plus runs and took two wickets as India missed out by a whisker, losing the final to the mighty Australians.
In 2011, Yuvraj charted out the map for India with his all-round performance, claiming 15 wickets and scoring 362 runs in the tournament.
Shakib has already overhauled many of those figures with still two more games left. He also emulated Yuvraj’s feat by claiming a five-wicket haul and smashing a fifty in the same match of a World Cup.
The gritty left-hander is one of the finest Asian all-rounders to have played the game of cricket. But he has long been shunned by media and the pundits alike as he never got the recognition that he deserves. The reason for this apathy might be attributed to fact that he plays for Bangladesh, who have not done anything noteworthy in their brief history of 20 years.
The closest they came to winning a major title was Asia Cup in 2018, when they were beaten by India by one run in a nail-biting finish in the final.
Shakib recently reached another landmark when he became the fastest to complete a double of 5000 runs and 250 wickets in just 199 ODIs.
He can be considered as the third best all-rounder after Indian great Kapil Dev and Pakistan’s legend Imran Khan. Both are the World Cup winning captains. It remains an issue of debate and discourse for many as they might refuse to acknowledge the weightiest proofs to massage their egos. For the argument sake, few people might say stats are like a bikini, what it reveals is suggestive and what it conceals is vital, it is the achievements which counts as Bangladesh are yet to win a major tournament.
However, Shakib is also only the third player to have scored a century and taken a five-wicket haul in a World Cup. Kapil did it in 1983, Yuvraj in 2011 and now Shakib in 2019. Incidentally, Kapil and Yuvraj ended up winning the World Cups.
Both India and Lanka were underdogs in 1983 and 1996 respectively when Kapil and Jayasuriya guided them to glory single-handedly.
It will be interesting to watch whether Shakib can do a Jayasuriya, Kapil or Yuvraj for Bangladesh to end their long wait for the World Cup.
India opener Rohit Sharma hit his fourth century of the World Cup as Virat Kohli's side booked their place in the semi-finals with a 28-run win over Bangladesh at Edgbaston on Tuesday.
The national flag of Bangladesh is red and green, but the Tigers' jersey unveiled on Monday for the tournament starting later this month in England and Wales was green and white.
Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) spokesman Jalal Yunus said cricket's world governing body had originally asked it to drop the red colour due to "commercial complications," but relented following a subsequent request from the BCB.
Bangladesh all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan has set his sights on a memorable 200th one-day international as his side chase a second successive World Cup win against New Zealand on Wednesday.
Austria's Red Bull Ring in Spielberg will play host to the first race of the season, which otherwise would have been the 11th race on the normal calendar.
Speaking to IANS, a BCCI official in the know of developments said that while the idea was to play the league in the country, the situation with regards to the coronavirus pandemic might force the board to ultimately take the tournament to either UAE or Sri Lanka.
"There is no doubt that cricket owes Shashank a debt of gratitude for all he has done for the sport. He has left cricket and the ICC in a better place than he found it,” Khwaja said in a statement.