'Thank you for your trust in us'
When Shakib Al Hasan took the microphone from the post-match presenter at the home of Bangladesh cricket in Mirpur yesterday and addressed the crowd, he thanked the fans for believing in them.
"You have come to the ground because you believed in us. To be honest last night a few of us did not believe that we could win [the first Test against Australia]. It was only possible because you believed in us," the world's premier all-rounder told the audience, which included the sports-savvy Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, after Bangladesh's historic 20-run win over the mighty Australia in the first of the two-Test series.
In a chirpy mood during the presentation ceremony, Shakib has been a man oozing confidence right from the build-up to the last ball of the absorbing opening Test. Animated at the fall of every Australian wicket, whether or not he was part of it; aggressive in every step on that lush green; dominating the opposition's bowling with his trusty bat (in the first innings where he scored an imperious 84); he was emotionally involved in everything.
He was so engrossed that he was having a long discussion with fellow left-arm spinner Taijul Islam when Pat Cummins was threatening to take the game away from the firm grip of the Tigers.
Soon, umpire Nigel Llong raised the simultaneously dreaded and cherished finger, not only stamping Bangladesh's first-ever win against Australia but also confirming the continuation of new-found belief, the seeds of which were sowed on this very ground exactly 10 months ago when the Tigers floored England for their first Test win of substance.
After so many plots and sub-plots it was almost the same scenario with the Tigers wresting back the initiative against Australia as they did against England. The only difference was that the Aussies were a tad more resolute than their great rivals.
Shakib was generous in crediting the victory to the fans (including his wife) for believing -- something they have earned since their spectacular journey from the 2015 World Cup. Over the course of three years they have won so many games that 'historic win' has now become an overused word.
But it is the self-belief of Shakib and Co. that is producing more positive results. When Shakib said ahead of the series that Bangladesh had the ability to win 2-0 and that the home spin attack was better than the touring team (in these conditions), cricket experts thought that it was done as part of a mind game rather than any serious concern.
This is not the first time Shakib served a salvo that irked an opposing captain. He had done it in the past -- ahead of the home series against Pakistan, England and South Africa. Known for his cutthroat attitude, the best all-rounder in the world also made an interesting remark after that washed-out Champions Trophy game against Australia, who were deprived of a victory due to the rain at the Oval in England earlier this year.
He was very annoyed with his dismissal (he was adjudged leg-before) and said that had he been there with Tamim Iqbal he could have exposed the weak link in the Australian bowling attack. It was not a veiled threat then, neither was it a veiled threat ahead of the home series against Steven Smith's men.
Playing their 50th Test, both Shakib and Tamim not only made it a memorable one but also provided the strongest of statements of their transformation as the pillars of Bangladesh, on which the Tigers can only build on. They are now not only a team that believes in their ability but also translates those to the field. The 155-run partnership between Tamim and Shakib in the first innings, which decided the game, is not something rare. It's a continuation of many outstanding partnerships over the course of the last three years.
Shakib is a born champion. He's born to dominate and not afraid of failure. He is leading a group that injected the belief in the fans that the Tigers can win.
It's a day not for Shakib, but for us, to salute the Tigers for the injection of belief.