Shakib Al Hasan has reached new heights by smashing his first double century in the first Test against New Zealand in Wellington.
A captivating 217 featured in a record Bangladesh partnership of 359 with other centurion Mushfiqur Rahim on Friday meant Bangladesh now sit pretty on 542 for 7 in their first innings after the second day.
On the first day of Bangladesh’s practice at the Basin Reserve when after the Twenty20 series, Shakib got his turn with the bat early and batted for some time. When everyone was done, Shakib returned to the nets and swung his willow some more.
He played a good hand in the first ODI of the tour but could not finish the job. In the other ODIs and the following T20 series, he was somewhat out of sorts.
“Not really, I just felt like batting twice in the nets. I thought it was needed, so I did but didn’t really think so much,” he said.
The allrounder is never too keen on talking about his practice. So the remark that he ‘thought it was needed’ says a lot about how desperate he has been to come good with the bat.
His yearning drove him to eclipse Tamim Iqbal’s previous individual best of 206 and Mushfiqur’s 200 by plundering 31 boundaries, also a record for a Bangladesh player, in his 276-ball innings at a strike rate close to 80.
The challenge for him, however, was to get his act together and improve on his own records on a green-tinged wicket against the Black Caps bowling attack. And he did it in style.
He had neither reached 150 in any Test innings, nor had he got a score of 130 in any other first class games.
Facing both the new and the old ball with superb temperament, the left-handed batsman gave a fitting response to criticisms about his ability to cope in tight match situations.
Neil Wagner hurled a flurry of short balls while Trent Boult kept things very straight; Tim Southee and Colid de Grandhomme tried to tempt him by offering room. But Shakib resolutely denied them as his innings contained 161 dot balls.
He waited for the balls to get in his zone and whenever it did, he expertly dealt with them.
Simple and easy it may have seemed, but at the end of the day Shakib made it clear that it was not so.
“I had to work very hard on the wicket, had to put plans in effect for tough situations. But there was an advantage. They could not bowl in good places for a long time, bowled a couple [of poor balls] here and there,” Shakib said.
“I wanted to score off the bad balls. The pleasing thing is I was able to handle different situations.”
Before the T20 series, Shakib said he did not think much about his own performance nowadays. But after New Zealand took the series 3-0, his forlorn mood was clear when he faced the reporters later.
But he was unmistakably satisfied on Friday.
“I was trying to do something good [for the team], I always want to contribute. Doing more definitely gives more pleasure. From that perspective, the whole thing is very satisfying,” he added.
Such words from someone like Shakib is a reflection of the first great day Bangladesh have had on their first overseas bilateral series after more than two years.