Dubai: Shakib Al Hassan is proving to be the man with the golden arm for Bangladesh. He is in such amazing form, both with the bat and the ball, that his introduction in the 11th over left the Afghanistan batsmen bewildered, who went into a shell and that proved the turning point.
After a long time, one witnessed a spinner terrorising the batsmen with his guiles. The Afghanistan batsmen were pretty much on target chasing a challenging total of 262 until the 10th over, but the introduction of Al Hassan changed the course of the match on its head.
His first over produced a wicket and from there at one point his figures read 7-1-10-4. Rare is the sight of a spinner bowling with a slip and a silly point in a One Day International! The Afghanistan batsmen once again floundered after showing a promise and made their chase more difficult by playing without a game plan that’s required in the chase.
Their lack of experience on big stage was evident and there was no purpose in their batting and the aggression was missing, they were so overawed by the occasion that their running between the wickets also suffered.
Things changed only when Samiullah Shinwari and Najibullah Zadran joined hands and broke the shackles of the Bangladesh bowlers to produce a half-century partnership for the seventh wicket. But that came in too late and was too little to trap the Tigers.
Afghanistan captain Gulbadin Naib said that “we are drowning and we will take you along with us” before the Bangladesh game, where a loss would have made it difficult for Tigers to qualify for the last four stage, but talk is easier and walking the talk is tough. Naib now would have learned a lesson.
Coming back to Shakib it is difficult to even think that the Bangladesh all-rounder was not playing too many matches for his franchise Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League. Coming into the World Cup bit rusty, one did not expect Shakib to strike a purple patch and become the leading scorer. His lowest so far remains at 41, and with the five-wicket haul against Afghanistan, the Bangladesh vice-captain would ease a lot of concerns ahead of two crucial group contests to book a place in the semi-finals.
Other veterans like Mushfiqur Rahim, Tamim Iqbal and Mahmadullah also finding their touch, the Tigers are ready to test their might against the other two Asian giants, India and Pakistan in their remaining matches. Game on!