Shakib Al Hasan should have stolen the headlines for his five-wicket haul in the first ODI against India, but it was Mehidy Hasan Miraz who got most of the attention in the end. Either way, the home side's dramatic one-wicket win has replaced the FIFA World Cup for prominence in the local media.
Brazil and Argentina flags had adorned hundreds of buildings around the Shere Bangla National Stadium. Many spectators came wearing football jerseys. There was the odd Argentina flag in the stands too, with a full house for most of the first ODI - up until when the win looked comfortable for Bangladesh. Then their team slipped and several fans didn't stay till the end. Those who did, witnessed a miracle. By the end of the evening, Shakib and Co. had made sure they had firmly turned the fans' attention back to cricket.
It was Shakib who did the star turn in the first half of the game. It was his blockbuster first over, an economical spell and a fine finish that combined to give him his first five-for against India. His 5 for 36 is his third-best figures in ODIs, and also the best by a left-arm spinner against India. The visitors couldn't recover from his regular blows, and coupled with Ebadot Hossain's maiden four-wicket haul, India were kept to 186, the second-lowest total for which they have been bowled out by Bangladesh in ODIs.
Shakib swung the game with his first four deliveries. Second ball, he bowled an arm ball that zipped past Rohit Sharma, who was waiting for it to spin. Then he had Virat Kohli caught at cover by a sprawling Litton Das.
When Washington Sundar and KL Rahul began to put up a bit of resistance, it was time to reintroduce Shakib again. Third ball into his third spell, he had Sundar caught by Ebadot at point. He then produced another wicket-taking delivery to remove Shardul Thakur with a ball that turned to beat his outside edge before hitting the off stump. Two balls later, Shakib completed his five-for with a regulation lbw against Deepak Chahar.
Coming into the series, Bangladesh - and Shakib - did not have much to celebrate. Shakib had underperformed in the recent T20 World Cup where Bangladesh were knocked out in the group stage, scoring just 44 runs across five matches and taking six wickets. In the tri-series against New Zealand and Pakistan before the World Cup, in which Bangladesh remained winless and Shakib experimented with a curved run-up, he shone with the bat but he went wicketless in the three matches. And just last week he was hit for five sixes in an over by Nicholas Pooran in the Abu Dhabi T10. Since the end of May this year, he has only 10 wickets in 15 international matches across formats, with an average of 44.70 and a strike rate of 50.40.
Shakib has had his share of lows over the past few years - from disciplinary issues to concerns around his form - but, at the same time, he's always played a role in Bangladesh's big moments. Think back to his 114* against New Zealand in the 2017 Champions Trophy (which came amid murmurs that there were some who wanted him dropped from the XI), or his ten-for in Bangladesh's maiden Test win against Australia.
In T20 franchise teams, Shakib is often picked as a bowling allrounder, and is sometimes called upon in powerplay. In the Bangladesh side, though, the emergence of several fast bowlers in the last few years has given him a breather from always bowling at crucial stages; he often comes on in the middle overs and finishes his spell before the death.
His ODI role, though, has remained the same for several years dating back to 2006-07. Shakib almost always bowls in the same periods in this format - late in the powerplay and through most of the middle overs. And since Abdur Razzak's wane in the mid-2010s, Shakib has assumed a more wicket-taking role. Now he is closing in on 300 ODI wickets, underlining the importance of his bowling for Bangladesh.
Shakib's importance to Bangladesh cannot be overstated: he's an experienced bowler, one of their leading batters, and a gun fielder. He rarely goes without making an impact with bat or ball for a long period. His confidence never seems to dip. And he also makes sure to turn up against big teams - just like he did against India on Sunday. Mehidy deserved the credit for the heroic finish but Shakib's five-for confirmed that he remains the primary match-winner in this Bangladesh side.