x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Shakib Al Hasan enjoys playing in Kolkata

Bangladesh all-rounder takes three wickets as Knight Riders beat Royals beat at Eden Gardens.

Shakib Al Hasan, left, the Kolkata Knight Riders bowler, took the key wicket of Rajasthan Royals opener Ajinkya Rahane. Dibyangshu Sarkar / AFP
Shakib Al Hasan, left, the Kolkata Knight Riders bowler, took the key wicket of Rajasthan Royals opener Ajinkya Rahane. Dibyangshu Sarkar / AFP

Shakib Al Hasan has always enjoyed playing at Eden Gardens in Kolkata, the all-rounder said after taking three wickets to lead the Knight Riders to a five-wicket win over the Rajasthan Royals last night.

Shakib, a former Bangladesh Test captain, feels at home in Kolkata, a city that is just across the border and where the native language is Bangla, which is his mother tongue.

Hence the left-arm spinner, who was dismissed as Bangladesh captain last year following a string of defeats and his own loss of form with bat and ball, found one more reason to celebrate after playing a vital role in the Kolkata franchise's win last night.

"Love playing here," he said after the game. "I felt this was a pitch where I needed to bowl well and did that."

Indeed, on a wicket that saw plenty of turn, the 25 year old, however, came into the attack with Rajasthan making a solid start with the bat after winning the toss.

But with the score on 45, Shakib had Ajinkya Rahane (19), the highest scorer in this year's competition so far, to edge one to Manvinder Bisla, the wicketkeeper.

He also dismissed captain Rahul Dravid – Rahane's opening partner – for 28 who holed out to Manoj Tiwary.

Shakib's third wicket came when he had Shreevats Goswami caught by Lakshmipathy Balaji for 22.

His three strikes were enough for the Royals to lose their momentum as the visitors ended up scoring a lowly 131 for five despite big hits from Owais Shah and Brad Hodge.

The Kolkata batsmen did not have it easy with the bat either, losing wickets at regular intervals. The experience in their line-up, however, ensured the hosts got home safe through efforts from Jacques Kallis (31), Bisla (29) and Tiwary (24).

In other IPL news, Azhar Mahmood, the Kings XI Punjab all-rounder, has received a visit visa to India according to captain Adam Gilchrist.

Mahmood, who has played in 21 Test matches and 143 one-day internationals for Pakistan from 1997 to 2007, is a British passport-holder and is therefore eligible to play in the competition.

Pakistani cricketers have been denied permits to play in India since the terrorist attacks in Mumbai in 2008 - allegedly planned and executed by a Pakistan-based terror outfit - cooled diplomatic relations between the neighbours.

Mahmood will arrive today to play for Punjab but will be available only for five games - at their home ground in Mohali, and one match against Delhi Daredevils in Delhi - since he has been given a visa to only play in these two cities.

The medium pacer, who plays for Kent, was bought by the franchise at the auction last February for $200,000 (Dh734,000).

Kings XI suffered consecutive losses in their first two matches, both away games, before bouncing back to win their home fixture with Pune Warriors on Thursday night.

Gilchrist had even made public his disappointment about not having Mahmood at his disposal, saying Kings XI were missing out on a "class" player, according to ESPNCricinfo.