The man with an eye for history

Shakib Al Hasan spreads his arms in contentment after cutting short Joe Root's stay at the crease early in the third session on Day Three of the second Test at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur yesterday. PHOTO: FIROZ AHMED

It is a measure of Shakib Al Hasan and the almost automatic expectation that he will perform that, amid the brilliance of Mehedi Hasan Miraz's 19 wickets and three five-fors, his 12 wickets have almost gone unnoticed. That is not quite accurate. Nine wickets may have gone unnoticed -- his five-wicket haul in Chittagong came on the day he played an outrageous shot to get out, overshadowing his bowling heroics that kept Bangladesh in the hunt.

But yesterday, after an overdue indifferent bowling performance in the first innings, he came roaring back. The evening session began with England 100 without loss in pursuit of 273. Ben Duckett's dismissal by Mehedi was not enough, as the firm duo of Alastair Cook and Joe Root were at the crease. Shakib dismissed Joe Root leg-before, but that was the calm before the storm.

With Mehedi accounting for the next four, at 161 for six there was still hope for England if they could just make it through to the close. In the three innings previously on this tour, England's last five wickets had averaged 36 per wicket, and a repeat would see them home.

But Shakib has a nose for the big moment. Name a landmark achievement for Bangladesh cricket since his debut, and you will find that Shakib had a big part in it -- his half-century in the 2007 World Cup win over India; his leadership during Bangladesh's Test and ODI series wins in West Indies in 2009; his man-of-the-series performance in the whitewash of New Zealand in 2010 and another man-of-the-series performance in Bangladesh's run to the finals of the Asia Cup in 2012.

So in the 42nd over, England were 161 for six with Ben Stokes and the capable Chris Woakes at the crease. The third ball had Stokes playing for the turn and being bowled by a straighter one. The next one turned viciously to catch Adil Rashid plumb in front. Shakib missed the hattrick but had Zafar Ansari edging a flick to short leg fielder Mominul Haque who parried the fumble to Imrul Kayes beside him, and it was 161 for nine. One over and history was all but in the bag.

Shakib perhaps knew when he took Stokes's wicket that it was game, set and match. He signalled a salute to the dressing room, and that pose went viral across the Mirpur stands as each subsequent wicket was greeted with the gesture from the spectators. No one quite captures popular cricketing imagination like Bangladesh's best player, and no one quite knows just when to grab the spotlight like he does.