The New Year saw the same old Shakib Al Hasan dealing with new challenges and leading from the front, be it opening the innings with the ball and picking early wickets or coming in to bat at number three. His excellence was not restricted to the field of play; the champion all-rounder also made a statement after the game which has its own significance.
This was the third time that Shakib has batted at number three in ODIs, a position that has been a big concern for the Tigers’ team management over the past few years.
When asked whether it is a challenge for him to bat at number three the ace all-rounder replied in his usual style: “Actually it’s a new challenge. It’s difficult to enjoy if you don’t face new challenges. I am hoping to score a big one after getting set in the next innings. Those who bat at No 3 or 4, they have to make use of good starts,” player-of-the-match Shakib told reporters after the Tigers’ eight-wicket win over Zimbabwe in the tri-series opener at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur yesterday.
The home side had done their homework and opened with spin from both ends with Shakib and fellow left-arm spinner Sunzamul Islam. Shakib bagged three wickets, two of which came in the very first over of the innings and Zimbabwe were not able to fully recover from that early twin strike, eventually being bowled out for 170.
“We were always successful against Zimbabwe because of left-arm spin. They are more comfortable against pace, which is why we started with spin. There was help in the pitch in the early stages. The wicket eased out as the game progressed. We needed early wickets,” he said.
According to Shakib it was an expected win for the Tigers and he credited the bowlers for the clinical show.
“Our win was predictable. I expected them to bat better but I think we bowled really well today. Mustafizur [Rahman], Mashrafe [Bin Mortaza] and Rubel [Hossain] did great work. Rubel always bowls when batsmen are set and scoring runs, but he always delivers for the team. Nasir’s four overs were important too,” Shakib added.
He also said that it is important to start the New Year on a winning note and that the momentum is crucial at the start of a tri-series. The all-rounder thought that the win will boost morale ahead of the tougher challenge against Sri Lanka.
According to Zimbabwe skipper Graeme Cremer, it was Shakib’s early blows in the first over that they were unable to recover from.
“I thought the wicket stayed pretty much the same, I thought the par score would be 240-250 but it’s always going to be tough if you lose two wickets in the first over. I think if we got to the par score it would have been tough to chase but we were just not good enough with the bat today,” Cremer told the media after the game.
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