Two friends, only one off-spinner


Bangladesh’s new Test skipper Shakib Al Hasan (2nd from R) spends some time with his teammates at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur on the first day of the conditioning camp ahead of the tri-series against Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka in January. Photo: Star

The morning was thrilling as Mahedi Hasan joined the national team camp for the first time yesterday at Mirpur. “From taking breakfast to sharing the dressing room, all the experiences were altogether different for me.” This was how young all-rounder Mahedi, who was rewarded for his domestic performances, expressed his excitement while talking to reporters about his first taste of a national camp during the Tigers’ first day of conditioning and fitness training yesterday  in Mirpur.

He however has got a close friend in the dressing room named Mehedi Hasan Miraz who has already become a popular face in Bangladesh cricket and had gone through a similar experience in October last year.

“We have been very close since childhood. We played together for the Under-14 team and in Khulna Division. It feels great as he has gotten a chance in the national camp. And don’t forget, his name is also Mehedi,” said Mehedi about his childhood friend.

Mehedi also did not forget to wish for his friend’s success. Interestingly, Mahedi will likely have to challenge his friend if he wants to grab a place in the national side. Mehedi had put in a stunning performance upon his arrival on the international stage in October 2016 against England. Although he has a long way to go to fulfil his talent, the former Bangladesh Under-19 skipper provided some evidence that he has come here to survive and will not go into hibernation after a few flashes of brilliance.

Only time will tell if Mahedi will disappear after attending the camp, whether he will get to play a few matches before fading or if he is here to stay. But without doubt the job in hand is a tough one for Mahedi – performing as a batsman and an off-break bowler.

Thus far, the track record of off-break bowlers has not been a very encouraging one since Bangladesh started their Test journey in 2000. Naimur Rahman not only led the team in the inaugural Test but was also the first off-spin bowler. Naimur however survived for only eight Tests and 29 ODIs. There was then a lot of buzz surrounding Fahim Muntasir when he replaced Naimur but the off-spinner lasted for only three Tests and as many ODIs. Off-spinner Jamal Babu emerged in 2003 only to play a solitary Test against England. Off-spinning all-rounder Sohag Gazi made a big splash heavy, especially when he became the first and only cricketer to score a century and take a hattrick in a Test, against New Zealand in 2013 but now he is nowhere near national focus. Another off-spinning all-rounder, Nasir Hossain, has been coming in and going out of the side for quite some time.

This fraught history is the reality for young Mahedi, who loves to bracket him as an all-rounder. “I am confident,” said Mahedi in response to a question about how confident he was regarding his chance of making it in the final squad.

“am consider myself an all-rounder,” added Mahedi, who got the attention with his off-break bowling in the last BPL after showing his batting prowess in the domestic first-class competition.

On the other hand, his celebrated friend Mehedi, who has so far played 10 Tests and seven ODIs, aims to improve his batting but at this moment he is happy with his identity as a specialist off-spinner in the team. So the route to national team for Mahedi is a tricky one indeed.

Source: The Daily Star.

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