"We will, we will rock you..."
The popular track was repeatedly being played by the DJ at the Rose Bowl as the Bangladeshi players huddled to celebrate the fall of the last few Afghan wickets. It was an attempt to keep the 15,000 odd fans entertained towards the fag end of the match.
Well, perhaps, the DJ hardly knew, by that time the Bangladeshi contingent of the crowd had already been "rocked" by a sensational all-round effort from the most valuable performer of this World Cup thus far — Shakib Al Hasan. On a tricky surface, a timely half-century followed by a five-wicket haul by the southpaw sealed his team's fate in this must-win fixture in order to keep the semi-final aspirations alive.
In World Cup history, this all-round brilliance of Shakib is one of the most clinical individual performances ever. After Yuvraj Singh, he is now the only player who had scored a half-century and taken a five-for in the same World Cup fixture. Yuvraj's 5 for 31 followed by an unbeaten 50 was made in Bengaluru against Ireland in the 2011 edition of this competition.
However, in the context of this World Cup, Shakib's effort against Afghanistan was far more significant.
Let's not forget that this was the same Afghan side which gave India a huge scare on Saturday (22 June). In addition to that, Monday's game was played on the same used surface. But compared to India, who were made to sweat till the last over by Mohammad Nabi and company to get those two points, Bangladesh were more ruthless in their approach as they registered a comfortable 62-run victory.
And it was the class of Shakib that made all the differences at the home ground of Hampshire.
Earlier in the day, the match started 10 minutes late due to wet outfield and at toss, Afghanistan captain Gulbadin Naib raised many eyebrows when he opted to field first on that used pitch. Under a gloomy sky, perhaps, he wanted the Afghan bowlers to take advantage of the early morning moisture and in the fifth over of the match, Mujeeb Ur Rahman did get rid of Liton Das to put Bangladesh under pressure.
In came Shakib, one of the most prolific scorers in the competition, to join Tamim Iqbal at the crease.
With two left-handers in, off-spinner Nabi was introduced into the attack from the other end straightaway. The ball was gripping the surface and odd ball was sticking at the pitch. It was not easy to time the ball.
Meanwhile, Shakib changed his game accordingly. Unlike some of his previous knocks in this World Cup, where he tried to dominate right from the start, on Monday, he was more circumspect in his approach. Much like Virat Kohli's innings on Saturday, the left-hander cut down the horizontal bat shots and played mostly in the 'V' initially to get himself going.
His half-century (third in this World Cup along with the two tons) was scored in 66 deliveries, which was a bit contrary to his overall strike-rate in this competition. But that's what great players always do — adopt according to the conditions and make an impact.
And the southpaw certainly did that.
Shakib shared two crucial partnerships — first with Tamim then with Mushfiqur Rahim — to provide Bangladesh to launching pad to aim for a 250-plus score, which on that wicket seemed enough at the half-way stage.
Nevertheless, in the second half, with the ball in hand, Shakib was equally effective, if not more.
After the end of the first powerplay, the two Afghan openers — Rahmat Shah alongside skipper Naib — had made a steady start when Shakib was introduced into the attack. With the sun coming out, the moisture in the pitch had evaporated by that time. So, there was not enough grip for Shakib, which the Afghan spinners got in the major part of the first half. Yet, the all-rounder struck with his fifth ball of the match when Shah played a loose shot.
That early breakthrough gave Shakib all the confidence and he never looked back.
He was bowling slower through the air and did not allow the batsmen any pace. In between, the arm ball was also bowled as a variation.
In his second spell, Shakib broke the backbone of Afghanistan middle-order when he sent back Naib, Nabi and Asghar Afghan in quick successions. The first two scalps came in back to back deliveries in the 29th over of the innings and one must feel that was that moment when Bangladesh sniffed a comfortable victory.
In his last spell, by removing Najibullah Zadran, Shakib put the final nail in the coffin of any faint Afghanistan hope. With that wicket, he also became the first Bangladeshi bowler to take a five-wicket haul in a World Cup match as well as became the first-ever cricketer to score more than 400 runs and take 10 wickets in a single edition of this pinnacle event of the cricket world. Not to forget that with 476 runs the southpaw is also the highest scorer in this World Cup.
In the build-up to this tournament, there were talks of three-dimensional cricketers. Well, at this point it seems like Shakib is perhaps the only ideal candidate in this category.
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The Player of the Tournament at the 2011 World Cup, Yuvraj had announced his retirement from all forms of cricket in June 2019.
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