When the annals of Bangladesh cricket are sifted by future generations, Shakib Al Hasan will emerge and re-emerge as the greatest cricketer of its first two decades. His on-field performances and off-field professionalism set a benchmark that was followed by peers and juniors alike. As a bowler, Shakib is accurate, consistent and canny; aggression and a wide range of strokes are the keys to his batting. Even more importantly, he has self-belief an excellent temperament, unflustered by the big occasion and ready to do battle against the top teams.
The best of his ability and temperament were on display in his first Test as captain, against a weakened West Indies side in Grenada, when Shakib took eight wickets and scored an unbeaten 96 in a tense but successful fourth-innings chase of 215, leading Bangladesh to their first overseas series victory. In only his fourth Test as captain, Shakib scored 87 and 100 - his maiden Test century - in a losing cause against New Zealand in Hamilton, performances that offered further proof of his skill and ability to handle pressure. Against the same opponents in 2008, Shakib took 7 for 36 in Chittagong, only the second instance of a Bangladesh bowler taking seven or more wickets in a Test innings.
In ODIs, Shakib's contributions have been equally vital with bat and ball and he became the first from Bangladesh to achieve the double of 2000 runs and 100 wickets. He also became the first batsman from Bangladesh to score five hundreds, despite mostly batting at No. 5.
Being clearly the best player in the team, it wasn't surprising when Shakib was handed the captaincy in 2009 after Mashrafe Mortaza repeatedly got injured during his first tenure. His ability to perform consistently and to stay calm under pressure worked well for Bangladesh, as they won 22 out of 47 games under him, and even beat England in the 2011 World Cup. However, the World Cup campaign was followed by a disappointing tour of Zimbabwe, where Bangladesh lost a one-off Test and the ODI series, which led to Shakib's removal as captain.
His form hardly waned, however, as he quickly bounced back to help Bangladesh bowl out West Indies for 61 in an ODI; a hundred and five-for in the same Test - something he has done twice - followed later in the year. He remained consistent for Bangladesh and his IPL team, Kolkata Knight Riders, but in 2014 Shakib lapsed into off-field shenanigans that saw him fined for lewdly gesticulating at the camera from the dressing-room during an ODI against Sri Lanka, then suspended for six months by the BCB for misbehaving with coach Chandika Hathurusingha and threatening to quit Bangladesh duty. The ban was lifted early and Shakib made the vice-captain in the ODI and T20 formats under Mashrafe. His match-winning ability was undimmed and he played key roles in Bangladesh wins during their stellar 2015.