Shakib leaves with big aims
Bangladesh all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan speaks on the phone as he takes his leave of the cricket board at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium yesterday, before heading for his IPL stint with the Kolkata Knight Riders later in the day.Photo: STAR
Shakib Al Hasan left the capital yesterday to play for Kolkata Knight Riders in the fifth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), which will be his second season in the money-spinning Twenty20 tournament.
The world's No 1 all-rounder in Tests and ODIs, who recently picked up two consecutive man-of-the-tournament awards in the Bangladesh Premier League and the Asia Cup, hoped he would play a full role during the gruelling two-month competition.
"My first priority is to make sure I play all the matches and for that I have to do well. If we can all play well together, we can make it to the final," Shakib told reporters at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium yesterday. "We have a good time and the owners never interfere with the cricketing side of things. When I played last year I saw that they were very cordial."
Shakib picked up eleven wickets from seven games in his first season of IPL where he had only three opportunities to bat in the star-studded Knight Riders line-up.
“I bowled well, but didn't get many opportunities with the bat. This time I want to bat well as well,” said the all-rounder.
He hoped that his current form, especially in the recently-concluded BPL, and the support from the country will hold him in good stead. Playing for Khulna Royal Bengals, Shakib scored 280 runs and took 15 wickets in the BPL.
"The BPL experience will be really helpful for me. I also hope that the people of the country support and pray for me, so that I do well, and so does Kolkata Knight Riders," he said.
Apart from the world's best all-rounder, Kolkata have one of the world's fastest bowlers in Brett Lee, one of the most destructive batsmen in world cricket Brendon McCullum and Jacques Kallis, the most dependable batsman in all formats. Apart from the cricketers, the Knight Riders are one of the most popular teams in the IPL, run by owners who rarely intrude in matters of team management.
Last season, Kolkata appeared more settled with a new captain in Gautam Gambhir and now have a new coach in Australian Trevor Bayliss who has replaced Dav Whatmore. Rudi Webster has been hired as a mental skills coach to help youngsters deal with high-pressure situations that are frequent in the Twenty20 format.
Shakib said that it is great to be playing with such great names, with whom he has acquainted himself during the last season.
"We have discussions on topics other than cricket with the other foreign cricketers, which is really useful. Since I know them from before, I can talk to them more freely.
"I think a person can feel more matured by keeping healthy relations with everyone," said Shakib.
He will have friend and Tigers teammate Tamim Iqbal plying his trade for the Pune Warriors this year, and Shakib believed that the left-hander has a bigger challenge since this is debut season.
"Tamim [Iqbal] is going for the first time so he'll have the challenge to play well. If we can play well, it will create opportunities for more players in the future," said Shakib.