‘Praise would be justified if we made the semis’ | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, July 07, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:56 AM, July 07, 2019

‘Praise would be justified if we made the semis’

For the first six matches, Bangladesh could have been called the success story or the surprise package of this World Cup, but the Tigers ended their campaign with a whimper by losing their last two matches against India and Pakistan. Bangladesh could however boast one success story that will last much longer than their initial momentum in the World Cup. Shakib Al Hasan’s 606 runs and 11 wickets constitute the best performance by an all-rounder in the World Cup -- he is only the third person to score more than 600 runs in a single edition, and the only one to take at least 10 wickets and score more than 400 runs.

As the team were preparing to leave London and head back home yesterday, Shakib took a look back at the World Cup and admitted that by the end of their campaign, the tournament has turned out to be a pretty disappointing one.

“It is hard to say whether we need a trophy,” he replied when asked whether Bangladesh would have to be champions to be recognised as a big team. “Not every team wins trophies, but they become big teams regardless. I don’t think England ever won a World Cup, but they are still a big team.

“If we could play the semifinals this time, we would have been able to justify the praise that former cricketers and those from other countries had showered on us. That is where there is still a gap. At the end of the day, if South Africa win, we will be at number eight, so from that perspective it would be a pretty bad result. So I don’t think we have been able to justify the praise that we have gotten. Many talk about the washed-out game against Sri Lanka. But what if we lost that match? Even without that match we had a chance, but we could not seize it.”

Skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza said the previous day, after Bangladesh surrendered their last match against Pakistan by 94 runs at Lord’s that his big regret was that the team could not take Shakib to the semifinals.

The man himself said that his disappointment was for the team and not that he could not go further personally. “There is regret for the team, because our target was to reach the semifinals and we could not do that. But the regret is not occasioned by the fact that I played well and the team couldn’t.”

Mashrafe said he felt sorry for Shakib, and it would be hard not to have that emotion. The top all-rounder had shed some weight before the World Cup and was arguably more involved with the team and on the field than he had ever been. A lowest score of 41 and seven 50-plus scores -- including two centuries -- was a level of consistency that not even Bangladesh’s most consistent cricketer had ever reached.

“It is hard to say why,” Shakib said when asked what made this World Cup different. “It just felt to me that this is important -- it’s good that I felt that way before the World Cup and so could come prepared. I wasn’t surprised [by my performance], because I knew what I was thinking when I came here. But yes, the best that could happen, did happen.”

On the tour of Ireland in May, a leaner Shakib was pressed on what brought about his physical change. He then recalled a Salman Khan movie, ‘Kick’, in which the main character needed a kick to get things done in life. Shakib said then that he had needed a kick, but would not reveal what it was, instead saying that he would reveal it after the World Cup.

 “Let some things remain secret,” Shakib said with a smile when reminded of his promise. Perhaps he thought that the end of Bangladesh’s World Cup would have been a happier occasion -- after all, he had done all that could humanly be done to accomplish that.

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