What‘s the story?
On a day which can be adjudged among Bangladesh’s greatest ever away from home, it did not come across as a surprise that their star all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan was at the forefront of it. Upon registering his country’s highest ever individual Test score, the southpaw has attributed his feat to the Wellington Stadium’s Public Address (PA) system and a promise to his wife.
The 29-year old revealed, “It was great to hear about all the records we were breaking (on the PA system). It inspired us to make the partnership bigger. I thought Tamim's (Iqbal) score was 214 not 206. When I ran that single, I saw Tamim was clapping and I thought, ‘oh, this is the highest score’. Yesterday, when (Mitchell Santner) dropped my catch, I told my wife that maybe I can go on to get a good score since big players make use of these chances.”
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After losing the toss under blustery conditions, the visitors conceded an early wicket. But, Tamim counter-attacked the Kiwi bowlers without any inhibition to overturn the momentum. Beginning the second day at 154/3, Shakib and skipper Mushfiqur Rahim took the game away from New Zealand’s grasp by piling on the runs at a healthy rate.
When the duo separated, they had added 359 runs for the fifth wicket (which is the fourth highest partnership in the game’s history) with Shakib cruising to a remarkable double century. Bangladesh ended the day at an imposing 542/7 as a few late wickets offered some respite.
The heart of the matter
Shakib’s 217 took him past Tamim’s previous highest score of 206 against Pakistan at Khulna in 2015. He might not have created Bangladeshi history had Santner dropped a straightforward catch at square leg.
Towards the end of the opening day, the pugnacious stroke-maker mistimed a pull shot off a rising delivery from Neil Wagner. But, Santner struggled to pick up the ball under fading light and consequently dropped the chance.
Bangladesh have already amassed a strong total and will be eager to apply pressure on the New Zealand batsmen. But, it’s easier said than done, as the pitch has not offered anything to the bowlers thus far.
Seeing as Test cricket never ceases to amaze, the next few days should make for fascinating viewing.
Despite the fact that he is playing for a rather developing Test team, Shakib has managed to establish himself as one of the premier all-rounders of the modern era. The double century and his mammoth partnership with Rahim was a testament to the left-hander’s prowess as Bangladesh’s best ever cricketer.
Perhaps, it is only fitting that he now possesses the national record.