Shakib Al Hasan went into the Test series against Sri Lanka on the back of not having bowled a single delivery in the longest format since the series versus Pakistan in December 2021.
Moreover, Shakib did not bowl a single delivery in the nets that he attended prior to the series opener in Chattogram. He was also initially ruled out of the opening Test versus Sri Lanka due to COVID-19. He was picked for the series opener only after he tested negative on May 12.
At that time, Bangladesh head coach Russell Domingo had said it will be hard to consider ‘fifty-sixty percent fit’ Shakib for the Test match. But despite all that, he bowled 64 overs in the first Test and also took a five-for in the second Test.
Shakib’s childhood mentor Nazmul Abedin told Cricbuzz that the ace all-rounder does ideomotor training. As a result, it doesn’t exactly matter whether he goes into a game on the back of not having bowled enough overs.
”He does a lot of ideomotor training. It’s like playing the game in the mind. What happens when you are playing is that the whole body gets active. With ideomotor training, the whole body gets activated as though you are playing through mind.
“It is one method that certainly suits him a lot and that is the reason he can perform even if he has not been seen in the nets for the whole day. Lots of athletes, throughout the world, follow this training method and it has proved dividends for them,” he added.
Nazmul pointed out that Shakib may not have bowled in the nets, but the indulgence in visualization has helped him cope with the demands and helped the mind and body to relax.
Bowling comes quite easily for him, and that remained the case since his childhood as he can pick the situation quite early than others and plan accordingly. Certainly bowling in white ball and red ball is different but despite coming into the longer format after some time, he adapted to it with ease and grace.
“Even in Chattogram he was looking to give some more air and more than anything else, he seemed to love every moment when he was bowling. He might not have practiced bowling in the nets, but certainly he does a lot of visualization and as far as I am concerned helps him a lot.”
Shakib echoed similar sentiments and said that he does have a different definition for fitness. The all-rounder also observed that “match fitness and being physically fit are two different things”.
”It depends on the individual player’s fitness on what can be termed match fit. Match fitness and being physically fit are two different things. There are many who bowl over after over, even fast bowlers who bowl 6-8 over spells but they don’t cross 10 in the beep test. There are others who get 10-13 in beep test but can’t bowl five overs on the trot.
“So definition of fitness is different in different places. I played four matches in the DPL in the heat and that helped me. I knew that the first two days in Chittagong were going to be difficult for me and then slowly it will be become easier It was about taking a chance but it was calculative,” Shakib told reporters.
The experienced left-arm spinner said that more than training, it was about whether he was doing it with a sense of purpose. ”I don’t think after playing for so many years I need 10 to 15 days. For me, three sessions are enough. If I am not playing, then maximum I need is five to six sessions (to prepare) and I don’t need more than that if I am fit. For me, training is not important, what is important is that whether I am doing it with a purpose.”
In the ongoing Test series, Shakib hasn’t just been bowling long spells, but he has also bowled with penetration. The point can be exemplified by how he defeated Dimuth Karunaratne in the air and tempted him to drive in the second Test. The ball then turned to shatter the timber.
Shakib has bowled with delicious flight and mixed up his pace in the series. He also employed a wrong-un in the first Test – a delivery that feels could be a useful weapon in limited-overs..
”I did not work with my wrong-un but after bowling that I felt it can be helpful in ODIs and T20Is and felt that I should be working on it (wrong-un). Normally, when you are constantly playing ODIs and T20Is, your bowling shape and action tend to change.
“When you are playing Test matches, those things return after playing one or two games. I can get back the rhythm and that is good for me as it helps me for ODIs and T20s. I bowled more than 100 overs so far (in the series). Certainly when someone bowls so many overs, there will be lot of thinking and experiments.