That's Shakib: Bangladesh all out for 248
On the second evening of the match, even after Mushfiqur Rahim was out late in the day with Bangladesh 72 runs in arrears, the one big hope and the reason that Bangladesh could still claim to be slightly ahead in the Test match, as Tamim Iqbal said in the post-day press conference, was Shakib Al Hasan's presence at the crease.
That must have been the thought in the Bangladesh dressing room this morning as well. There was a nightwatchman batting with him, there were two debutants in the dressing room waiting their turn who could have used his guidance.
Then, off the second ball of the day, on a turning wicket and against Moeen Ali, an off-spinner bowling around the wicket on a turning pitch, the left-hander played the worst shot possible. He decided to come down the wicket and tried to hit it over the top with a wild swing of the bat. The resultant stumping was a blessing in disguise for a cricket culture where criticism often hinges on results.
It was not an airy shot off a wide ball bowled by a pacer that a batsman instinctively chased. It was a premeditated, thought out shot off the second ball of a day that Bangladesh desperately needed to start well on. It was also a shot that many of us would have praised for its bravery had it come off. But regardless of the result of the shot, considering the context, it can only elicit censure.
The previous evening he was going for his shots, along with Mushfiqur, but there was a trace of logic behind it. On a tricky pitch it would not do to get bogged down, so the scoreboard had to be kept ticking over. But when the going got tough yesterday in the last half hour, he did buckle down and play for the end of the session -- raising hopes that he may play for the lead today.
Yesterday evening, he did come down the wicket and hit Gareth Batty, another off-spinner, over the top. But that was when the spinner was bowling over the wicket and the ball could be expected to pitch outside leg stump, giving Shakib a better chance of covering the turn. Shakib also had spent some time in the middle by then; it was his 22nd ball. It was a risk no doubt, but as many fans will tell you -- that's Shakib.
In April 2013, Shakib had reached 81 in the second Test against Zimbabwe in Harare, but after tea instead of pressing home the advantage with Bangladesh at 248 for four he charged Elton Chigumbura and edged through to the keeper. He later said that he would do the same if he had another chance. In the first ODI against England on October 7 this year, he played beautifully to reach 79 in partnership with centurion Imrul Kayes but when 39 runs short of a famous win, he tried a pull off Jake Ball that was caught at square leg. Having taken Bangladesh to the brink and with only bowlers to follow, it fell upon him to take them home. But that's Shakib.
But this morning, 'that's Shakib' just is not a good enough answer. A man touted as the best cricketer in the country, on potentially the most important day of Test cricket in its history, effectively said he did not care about the outcome of the match.
Bangladesh lost their last five wickets for 27 runs to concede a 45-run first innings lead. It is probably just as well that he got out early, because one will have to question the quality of guidance he could have provided debutants Sabbir Rahman and Mehedi Hasan Miraz.