Taijul Islam might have hogged the limelight, but one cannot help but praise the bowling of Mehidy Hasan at Sylhet…..
After doing exceedingly well in the first series, Mehidy Hasan has somewhat faded away. He is still young and has been earmarked for great success in the future, but he has not found ways to get the batsman out on conditions that do not favour him, He had three 6-wicket hauls in his first four innings in Tests, but then had a torrid series in New Zealand followed by a poor Test against India and then made vital contributions in Sri Lanka where Bangladesh levelled the series 1-1. Although he was not as effective against Australia he made a mark in the Jamaica Test, where he bowled his heart out to register figures of 5 for 93.
Back in home conditions, Mehidy has found it tough to be among the wickets against a reasonably below par side, Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe played the waiting game in the first innings. They were in no hurry to score and wanted to see away as many deliveries as possible. They knew a score anywhere close to 300 would be a good one on a slow pitch, with barely any turn for the spinners. There was an oddball that would spin a bit more than usual, but nevertheless, it was a good wicket to bat on.
On conditions like these, it is important for the bowler to show a bit of patience and stick to his strengths. In Mehidy’s case, it is more about bowling on the tight channels and make it difficult for the batsmen to score. His strength has always been to give the ball a good tweak, flight it and make the batsman play at every opportunity. He is also good in deceiving the batsman with the quicker ones, which hurries them into playing a shot.
Mehidy has not employed the Doosra into his game and it should ideally be something that he works on in the upcoming years. If there is a bit of turn to offer, Mehidy can certainly make the best of it, even though, many of his wickets have been more of a case of smart bowling than getting a rip from the wickets. He showed in his maiden Test innings that he can trouble the batsmen with a bit of purchase and at the same time, he showed in a few other games that it does not necessarily turn and demons in the pitch that fetch him wickets – Like his 5-wicket haul against West Indies at Sabina Park.
The best thing about Mehidy is that he will always look to flight his deliveries. Some get banished into the fence, but at some occasions, a subtle change in line and length does the job. He has a good quicker one as well. Brian Chari was set up beautifully by Mehidy in Zimbabwe’s second innings. Mehidy was drifting between flighted ones outside off and quicker ones. But the ball that got him the wicket, he drafted the ball a little more outside the off with some flight and the ball managed snuck through.
However, Sikandar Raza and Brendan Taylor showed that if you bat with a positive attitude against spinners, they cannot bog the batsmen down. Mehidy would not have minded going to the fence as he knew he had a chance of finding an opening. Despite Raza hitting Mehidy for 4, 6 and 4 of consecutive deliveries, the youngster still kept tossing the ball up, in a bid to force the batsman to make a mistake.
In the limited-overs however, Mehidy is more of a containing bowler rather than a wicket-taking one. They have bowlers like Mustafizur Rahman or even Mashrafe Mortaza who have been consistently taking wickets up front, which eases the pressure on bowlers like Mehidy to bowl to his strengths and look to contain the batsman, if not pick up wickets.
Mehidy did manage to get three wickets in the second innings, which would give him some confidence after he went wicketless in the first. However, with Bangladesh needing 295 more runs to win the Test, Mehidy will now have to show his prowess with the bat as well. He has shown glimpses of what he can do with the bat and Bangladesh would want more from him in that department.
He proved his credentials as an all-rounder when he scored 242 runs at 60.50 and picked up 12 wickets at 17.66. He led from the front and was also awarded the player of the series as a result. Bangladesh knew that they had found a new star in their ranks and unleashed him at the right time. At the international level, he is yet to reach his full potential, but he is certainly taking baby steps in achieving it.
Mehidy, 21, still has age on his side and has been backed by the team management, by giving him ample opportunities in all three formats. It is now up to him to utilise it. It has been a good start so far but has also hit a few bumpy roads. All such experiences will surely make him a better cricketer.