Shakib back at the top
Good tidings are piling up for Bangladesh as the team prepare for their World Cup challenge starting with their opening match against South Africa on June 2 in London. The cricketing world knows that Shakib Al Hasan is the best all-rounder on the planet, but as if to remove any lingering doubts caused by Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan briefly usurping the Magura all-rounder’s throne, Shakib was officially back to the top of the ODI all-rounder’s rankings yesterday.
Over much of the last decade, Shakib has usually been a fixture at the top of the all-rounder’s rankings in ODIs, Tests and T20Is, making him the gold standard as far as modern-day all-rounders are concerned.
Having beaten out the likes of Ian Botham, Kapil Dev and Imran Khan to become the fastest to the double of 3,000 Test runs and 200 Test wickets in November last year, Shakib now stands on the cusp of becoming the fastest -- by far -- to the ODI double of 5,000 runs and 250 wickets, which he stands to achieve at the earliest in his 199th match when Bangladesh take on South Africa. If he does achieve the mark on June 2, he would have beaten the next best on the list -- Pakistan’s Abdul Razzaq by a whopping 35 matches. Shakib missed the tri-series final because of back spasms, but that just means that he is set to bring up the special record on the grandest stage of all -- not unlikely for a player who has risen to the occasion more often than not.
Shakib’s brief slip from the top was because of a glut of injuries in the recent past. A finger injury forced him to miss the entire tour of New Zealand earlier this year, while a flare-up of an older finger issue caused him to miss three ODIs against Zimbabwe and part of the Asia Cup last year. However, three matches in the Ireland tri-series -- which preceded Bangladesh’s World Cup campaign -- where he scored 140 runs with two half-centuries and took two wickets, was enough for Shakib to reclaim his spot at the top. He now has 359 points to Rashid’s 339.
Shakib is not resting on his laurels. In Leicester, where Bangladesh concluded an optional training camp yesterday, Shakib was one of the busier players, spending almost an hour in the centre wicket honing his batting. Judging by the rifle-shot echoes of his shots ringing out through the Leicestershire County Cricket Club, practice was going well for the all-rounder.
Having already gotten the immense confidence boost of winning their maiden multi-team ODI trophy -- that too undefeated -- Bangladesh will now head to the World Cup knowing that they have the world’s best all-rounder in their ranks, officially.