Mehidy Hasan issues call to action for Shakib-less Bangladesh’s young brigade


Bangladesh cannot just keep waiting for their senior players to perform for the team to start doing better overseas, believes Mehidy Hasan, the offspin-bowling allrounder. After their innings-and-130-run defeat at the hands of India in the Indore Test, the team’s over-reliance on their senior players stood exposed again, and showed up the team’s lack of balance in the absence of Shakib Al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal.

Come the pink-ball Test in Kolkata, the onus to put up a fight, according to Mehidy, will be on him and the rest of the younger brigade, players like Liton Das, Mustafizur Rahman, Shadman Islam and Mohammad Mithun.

“I wouldn’t necessarily say I am a junior player now. I have played three years of international cricket. I am learning a lot and gaining experience day by day,” Mehidy, who returned 1 for 125 from his 27 overs in Indore, said. “The seniors have put us in a good position but we should also support them. We have to perform better, which will help the team combination.

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“If you look at our Test wins recently or [those in which we] played well, we combined and communicated quite well with the senior players. Some of us like myself, Liton, Mustafiz, Shadman and Mithun have an important role in the team.”

With the experience of 20 previous Tests under his belt, Mehidy played his part to some degree – with the bat, albeit in a one-sided contest – in the second innings of the Indore Test; he made 38 in a fighting 59-run seventh-wicket stand with half-centurion Mushfiqur Rahim.

Mehidy’s performance with the bat, by his own admission, came after he was instructed to strengthen the lower order by propping up the more established, set batsman, and spend more time at the crease. Without Shakib, Bangladesh are relying on Mehidy to provide some all-round spark, but that, for the best part of the Indore game, had been missing.

“They [Indian batsmen] were attacking in the last match, hitting balls on a good length. But if we can curb the run rate, the spinners will have more chance to take wickets”

“As lower-order batsmen, we need to support the batsmen at the other end,” Mehidy said. “Mushfiq bhai was batting so well, but we couldn’t help him. He could have scored more runs. Coach [Russell Domingo] has spoken to all of us, and said we must support them by playing 20-30 balls. It would give the batsmen more confidence. Coach said that I should let the batsmen do the job, but also spend more time in the middle.”

Mehidy also revealed that discussions with Mushfiqur, during Monday’s net session, were mainly about how the young allrounder could be more focused against a quality bowling attack that doesn’t allow the batsmen any breathing space.

“Some of my biggest partnerships are with Mushfiq bhai in ODIs or Tests – we have a good combination – and he was telling me that my batting was fine but I have to be careful of more good balls. I have to be prepared to survive through long spells of good bowling. He suggested that I should be focused in my training.”

Mehidy, who has a distinctly better home bowling average – 21.44 – compared to his overseas record – 57.68 – also said that he has had discussions with Domingo about being more effective in foreign conditions where the ball doesn’t grip or turn off the pitch from the first day, as it does in Dhaka or Chattogram.

“When we play at home, there’s an obvious advantage, but in overseas Tests, we only get to spin the ball from the third or the fourth day,” he said. “I have been told by the coach and others to bowl economically when I am playing abroad, to check the run rate.

“They [the Indian batsmen] were attacking in the last match, hitting balls on a good length. But if we can curb the run rate, the spinners will have more chance to take wickets.”

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