An already unlucky Asia Cup went from bad to worse for Bangladesh as before the most important match, yesterday's virtual semifinal against Pakistan, trump card Shakib Al Hasan was ruled out of the tournament. That meant that Bangladesh, already without Tamim Iqbal because of a left-hand fracture sustained in the first game, were in crisis mode. However, this crisis could have been avoided and that it was not is the equivalent of a man beneath a window watching a falling safe and hoping that gravity will suddenly change its laws.
Shakib's injury to his left little finger, which saw him return to Dhaka yesterday and likely to fly off for either Melbourne or New York for surgery, was sustained in the tri-series final against Sri Lanka at home on January 27. He was ruled out of the subsequent Test and T20I series and was only brought back in March for the crunch Nidahas Trophy game against Sri Lanka in Colombo.
He then played the three-match T20I series against Afghanistan in June and starred on the full tour of West Indies with the bat. But upon returning from the tour, Shakib expressed a desire to have the surgery as soon as possible.
“I think it [surgery] should be done because I don't want to play without being fully fit. So, if I think along those lines then having surgery before the Asia Cup is normal. Most probably it will take place before the Asia Cup,” said Shakib at the airport on August 9.
However, Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) president Nazmul Hassan said on that very day that he could not imagine playing the Asia Cup without Shakib, even though new coach Steve Rhodes was also of the opinion that Shakib should go under the knife before the Asia Cup.
“I said it would be better to do it before the Zimbabwe series,” Hassan said. “The Asia Cup this time is already tough and it will be a psychological disadvantage if Shakib is not there. We will sit with Shakib and discuss everything soon.”
After discussion, Hassan had said it was up to Shakib the BCB boss already having made his preference known perhaps put Shakib in a false position. He still said that he was finding it difficult to bat. And that showed in scores of 0, 17, 32 and 0 in the first four matches of the Asia Cup. Shakib never looked comfortable with bat in hand and the continued exposure of the finger led to him not even being able to grip the bat before the Pakistan match.
“Let's see when I go there -- if things don't look good I might go straight for surgery from there,” Shakib said with a chuckle in an interview with The Daily Star on September 5. It does not seem so funny now.
If the BCB had taken the word of a player of Shakib's calibre and allowed him to do what his body needed, then Bangladesh could have planned for the Asia Cup without Shakib. Instead, at the most important juncture of a tournament, they are basically in a state of emergency. It has to be wondered what psychological effect that has had.