Five questions for Shakib Al Hasan

Shakib Al Hasan lofts one straight past the bowler AFP

It appears Shakib Al Hasan took the decision to go after Mitchell Santner at least a few balls before his fateful shot on the final morning in Wellington; premeditation is the best reason one could offer for a shot like that.

Kane Williamson had begun with a short leg, a very short midwicket and mid-on. After pushing forward to three of the first four balls he faced, Shakib couldn't contain himself seeing a slower, flighted delivery. He decided there was enough room to swing, and swing hard he did, losing his shape and hitting the ball on the up, only to be caught easily at mid-on. Off the eighth ball of the morning. With a Test match on the line.

And so Bangladesh's inconveniences on the fourth evening had turned into a struggle on the fifth morning. Shakib, the double-centurion from the first innings, had fallen for a duck. Bangladesh, having started the day three down and with two batsmen injured, had slipped to 66 for 4.

It was a perplexing choice of shot, given the time and situation of the match. As the day progressed and Bangladesh got deeper into trouble, Shakib's irresponsibility in playing it was amplified. Revisiting the shot prompts plenty of questions. Here are five:

Was Shakib looking to scuttle New Zealand's plans?

Williamson had set an unconventional field for left-arm spinner Santner to the left-hand batsman Shakib. It looked to be a specific plan, devised to prey on Shakib's impetuous shot-making. Shakib has every right and all the experience to look to beat such a tactic by hitting over the close-in fielders positioned at short-leg, short midwicket and mid-on. But his execution was off. Most inexplicably, he looked to be in a hurry when the ideal approach for Bangladesh, given the match situation, would have been to slow things down.

Was Shakib feeling the pressure, and hence tried to hit himself out of trouble?

Maybe, but it was the eighth ball of the morning, Shakib's fifth; there wasn't enough of a build-up of pressure. For a batsman who had just scored a double-hundred, this shouldn't have been a major issue.

Does his role as a senior play on his mind?

He had added 359 runs in a record-breaking stand with Mushfiqur Rahim in the first innings. Surely he would have wanted to produce a similarly key innings in the second innings, especially given his experienced partner from the first innings was already injured and would not be at his best. True, all this might have been playing on his mind. But surely he would have known that even if he failed in delivering runs, his seniority demanded he play responsibly; he just could not afford to get out to such a rash shot.

Did his first-innings 217 give him licence to play recklessly?

He is in his tenth year of Test career, and has proven himself to be the best cricketer Bangladesh has produced. Such a thought shouldn't even exist in his make-up.

Looking back, two previous instances come to mind, in which Shakib was dismissed at a critical point of a Test match. Against England last October, he wildly charged Moeen Ali off the second ball of the third day, with Bangladesh on 221 for 5. They slipped to 248 all out in reply to England's 293, and gave away an opportunity to have a major advantage in the game.

Five years prior to this, Bangladesh's chances of drawing a Test against West Indies, in Dhaka, hinged on Shakib's presence at the crease. But, having just crossed fifty on the final day, he tried a scoop off Darren Sammy and the mis-hit was caught at slip. Bangladesh crumbled quickly afterwards.

If these shots are fresh in the memory, that's primarily because of Shakib's stature as a cricketer in Bangladesh. He is not expected to take such inexplicable decisions at critical times.

That is not to say he hasn't taken good decisions in his career. He has, many times. But then, the good decisions have built him a reputation, and expectations have grown exponentially. Which, in turn, makes the bad decisions so much harder to stomach.

All this brings us to: If presented with such a situation again, will Shakib attempt a similar shot?