Shakib keeps pulling rabbit out of hat
The wily old Shakib Al Hasan's armoury keeps stretching to include new variations. Having come back from Covid-19 after initially being ruled out of the first Test at Chattogram and taking part in just one practice session, where he did not bowl a single delivery and only focused on his batting, Shakib lifted Bangladesh up in the second session of day two with the ball.
For most cricketers, going into a Test match with just a day's practice would be bizarre. However, for Shakib to turn up with the ball, with Bangladesh needing his contributions to keep Sri Lanka under 400, appeared to be routine.
Even yesterday, when he bagged just a wicket, his overall contributions with the ball led spin coach Rangana Herath saying 'I was 100 per cent confident that he will deliver even without practice'.
It is a flat surface that was on offer at Chattogram's Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium. It led to Shakib keeping up his bag of surprises. He turned into a wrist spinner on a few deliveries, bowling leg-spin to try out something new. After Lunch he turned the tide towards Bangladesh.
Two deliveries into the second session, Shakib began to showcase his guile with variations. He pushed a quicker one through to Ramesh Mendis that did not bounce as much as expected despite feigning to do so. It sort of skidded on from a short length before sneaking under the pull shot and castled the stumps. Next delivery, a regulation left-arm orthodox delivery beat Lasith Embuldenya all ends up and rapped the pads and even a review could not save Embuldenya's blushes.
On a hattrick, Shakib dropped it short and could not capitalise on the pressure of close-in fielders to pick up what would have been the first hattrick of his career but the damage had been done and Nayeem's 6 for 105 led to Sri Lanka being all out for 397.
[Related read: Mathews first to be dismissed on 199 in Bangladesh]
Shakib's figure stood at 39 overs, 60 runs and three wickets at an economy of 1.53. Fit or unfit, Shakib got his way and not only with inclusion in the side but also his effect with the ball.