The 19-year old’s first ball in Test cricket landed on a length and spun straight away and the next five deliveries were very accurate to keep Ben Duckett at bay. Immediately, the youngster gave everyone the impression that he was ready for the toughest format of the game. At the end of day 1 of the first Test at Chittagong, Mehedi was in a joyous mood.
Duckett, Joe Root, Gary Ballance, Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow and Stuart Broad were his six victims as he became the youngest Bangladeshi to bag a five-wicket haul on debut. The boy’s hunger for wickets did not diminish as he came back strongly in the second innings to nail the English captain Alastair Cook.
He was at it again in the first innings of the second Test at Mirpur as he made the life of the English top order batsmen difficult and he ended up bagging six wickets again.
Mehedi Hasan Miraz. He was on the radar of the national team selectors ever since his brilliant performance during the ICC Under 19 World Cup this year in Bangladesh. He was adjudged the Man of the Tournament and the critics were optimistic about his success at the highest level.
Miraz loves to smile. No one will ever see him in a gloomy mood. Even in the most pressurized situations, he maintains to keep the smile on his face. Perhaps, this quality of Miraz helps him absorb pressure to a great extent. He is humorous, loves to make fun with his friends, enjoys swimming and catching fish in the nearby pond of his village.
He is youthful, but he can be a smiling assassin with the ball.
What makes Mehedi Hasan so deadly against England?
Miraz is an orthodox spin bowler with a round arm action. His smartness lies in gripping the ball.
Normally, a finger spinner would spread his first and second fingers onto the seam of the ball, ensuring that the main pressure is exerted on the first finger. But Miraz tends to deceive the batsmen with his grip. He shows the batsmen that he is gripping the ball with standard spread-fingers but instead, he holds the ball so that the forefingers run down the seam. His thumb adopts a sideways position.
So, whenever he releases the ball, it comes off the ends of the fingers. The batsmen expect the ball to turn into them, but instead, it turns away, which opens the opportunity for a caught behind or at slip or even a stumping.
Moreover, with the same grip, he is capable of imparting downward rip on the ball by cocking his wrist as if he is opening a doorknob in the direction of the spin and flicking it with his first finger.
Because of his round-arm action, instead of locking the elbow as a fast bowler would, Miraz maintains a slight angle bowling with a fractionally bent arm which allows him to get beside and under the ball easily. This allows his shoulder muscles to become more involved in imparting force on the ball.
Both at Chittagong and Mirpur, Miraz was seen to generate turn and bounce at pace. This was because the involvement of his shoulder muscles helped achieve such.
At such a young age, Miraz has the brain to read that length which will create problems for the opposition batsmen and seems to be at home in creating difficult angles while bowling round the wicket. Again, he has the courage to experiment his lengths and set the batsmen up.
On day 1, Miraz dished out quite a number of loose balls to Alastair Cook which were dispatched towards the boundary. Miraz pitched those balls either short or too full. In his next over, Cook was flummoxed by a beauty from Miraz which zipped on at pace to hit his back leg.
Cook was set up nicely and was not prepared for such a ripper of a delivery.
How do you counter it?
If a batsman needs to master Miraz’s bowling, he needs to disturb his length by using his feet more, come down the track and attack and above all, he needs to watch his grip and position of the seam carefully.
But all I can say is, Miraz is capable of bouncing back despite getting hit as he is blessed with a positive and fighting mindset. His success is not a flash in the pan, but it has been more due to his natural talent, skill, ability to learn quickly and the hunger for success.
It has been an encouraging start for the youngster and this bodes well for the future.