About time for a Shakib show
When Bangladesh last played a Test match against Pakistan in Mirpur in December 2011, Shakib Al Hasan was the man to watch from the Bangladesh side. Though Bangladesh lost that match, the ace all-rounder hogged the spotlight with his 144-run knock in the first innings and a match-haul of seven wickets.
As a new-look Tigers, with new-found confidence, lock horns with Pakistan in the second and final Test starting from today at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium, they will hope that the experienced campaigner will bounce back from his rather ordinary bowling performance in Khulna and help his side notch a remarkable finish to a series which has already resembled a fairytale story for the Tigers.
Everybody is anticipating a result in the Mirpur Test and skippers Mushfiqur Rahim and Misbahul Haq are no exceptions. The reason for that is the Mirpur pitch has traditionally offered something to the bowlers, unlike Khulna where Tamim Iqbal and Imrul Kayes's record-breaking 312-run opening partnership in the second innings kept Pakistan winless in the series.
Bangladesh's batting so far has showed enough mettle to keep one's confidence in them, despite the fact that Pakistan has every weapon in their hand to challenge the Tigers and salvage some pride from the tour. There will be no shortage of confidence in the Bangladesh tent when they go into the last game of the tour, but if they want to clinch their first-ever Test victory against Pakistan, their bowling should tick all the boxes; and Shakib especially will be the key.
Pakistan had targeted Bangladesh's best bowler in the first Test and they were quite successful as the left-arm spinner conceded 146 runs for one wicket in 37 overs in the first innings and most importantly struggled with his line and length.
Bangladesh skipper Mushfiqur however, was still looking forward to his best bowler ahead of the last Test, which he dubbed as a 'final' for them.
"Yes there is a little bit of a concern [with Shakib's poor bowling in the first Test]. He is the best bowler in the team, so we may not be happy to see him getting one or two wickets because we always expect that he will get five or six wickets. Shakib has a very good record in Mirpur. I am eagerly waiting to see him at his best and it will be our Test if he can do well in both batting and bowling," said Mushfiqur.
Shakib knows better than most about how to come back from a dip in form and he can also take inspiration from his impressive bowling record at this venue. Shakib is the highest wicket-taker here with 43 scalps from 12 Tests and the left-hander is also the highest run-getter in Mirpur with 956.
This "Team Bangladesh" may not depend on any individual as everybody looks hungry for success and the brand of cricket this team has been playing only raises the expectations, but still some 'Shakib magic' can add more flavour to the success and make sure Pakistan leave empty-handed.