Shakib Al Hasan's public image would have done well without some of his outbursts over time. Kicking over the stumps and berating the umpire during a Dhaka Premier League match earlier this year were certainly not on. Neither was the inappropriate gesticulation on live television during the 2014 Asia Cup.
There have been quite a few instances of offensive behaviour in Shakib's career—in the Nidahas Trophy where he got into an altercation with an umpire over a no-ball, preceded by the meltdown against yet another Dhaka umpire during a Bangladesh Premier League match in Mirpur. Getting banned in 2019 for not reporting corrupt approaches almost wrecked his career. But Shakib bounces back every time, by sheer virtue of his talent. He can be volatile but when in his elements, Shakib compels you to admire his cricket.
It's not easy, if you think hard. This isn't 2014, when Kolkata Knight Riders last won IPL with Shakib as a vital cog in the team. Everything from the core to captain of KKR changed in the next few years. Spin options have changed. Varun Chakaravarthy is now preferred with Sunil Narine. But Shakib has managed to stay relevant. He has had to wait for his turn this IPL. But when he did, Shakib showed why he is one of the best all-rounders ever in the white-ball format.
This isn't about his batting. Let's not even start with his bowling, for that matter. Let's go back to that slightly wide fuller ball from Chakaravarthy that Shikhar Dhawan tried to skip down the pitch and clear the boundary. The pitch was slow and Chakaravarthy almost released the ball from the back of his hand. It was never going to hit the sweet spot. Instead, it took an outside edge and Shakib did brilliantly to dive forward and take the catch at backward point.
It was a match-altering dismissal. On a slightly darker and slower Sharjah pitch, Delhi Capitals lost their mainstay in the 15th over, just when he should have changed gears after getting a good feel of the pitch. It wasn't easy to get going on the Sharjah pitch on Wednesday. Marcus Stoinis was at sea. Rishabh Pant had difficulty reading the bounce. And Shimron Hetmyer was stop-start at best. That Dhawan dismissal ensured Delhi Capitals would struggle to maintain a decent run rate instead of consolidating on whatever they could muster in 15 overs. All because of that catch by Shakib.
Then there was the brave move of opening the bowling. With field restrictions in place, Shakib started the innings with a tossed up ball to Prithvi Shaw. Next ball was quicker and shorter, forcing Shaw to make room and cut but he failed to clear the infield. Four more deliveries of varying length and speed and Shakib set the tone with an opening over that went for only one run. The second over was more expensive but Shakib still finished with 4-0-28-0. He could have bagged Dhawan in the seventh over with a quicker delivery down the leg, but Dinesh Karthik failed to collect it properly to stump the left-handed batter.
Of the 28 runs Shakib leaked in his quota of four overs, 14 came in three hits, 10 of them in his second over. Shakib never let that weigh down KKR. One of the quickest operators in the game, he went through his overs varying his speed and length before Delhi Capitals even realised what happened. This, against Dhawan and Shreyas Iyer in conditions as good as at home, was nothing less than a heist for the all-rounder.
Four matches into the IPL, Shakib has been a silent contributor with his bowling—pulling off spells of 1/20, 1/1, 0/24 and now this. Like before, Shakib continues to be indispensable for KKR.