Indian spinners captivate Mehedi Hasan. He absorbs as much as he can by watching videos of Indian offies. Ramesh Powar has played only two Tests for India but those two matches played a significant role in Mehedi’s career. He was not even a teenager when he saw Powar bowl during India’s tour to Bangladesh in 2007. He replicated Powar’s bowling action in the nets session. From side-on, Mehedi switched to a more open front-chested action and felt much more comfortable. He realized the new action gave him more control over the ball. As he began making an impression at the age-group level, Mehedi, still only 19, started following R Ashwin closely. “He is the world’s No. 1 bowler. I follow his bowling closely to see what he does in different situations. How he sets up a batsman and how he plans for his wickets. Whenever India play, I watch the match for him,” Mehedi told BCCI.TV.
For five days, Mehedi did not have to resort to television to see how Ashwin goes about his business. The one-off Test in Hyderabad was a perfect setting for Mehedi to test himself against the best batsmen of spin bowling and at the same time, watch his favourite bowler bowl against his own team. While Mehedi did get Ashwin’s wicket in the first innings, it was a priceless conversation on the art of spin bowling that he savours the most. After India’s 208 runs win, Mehedi came over to the Indian dressing room and sat down with Ashwin for a one-to-one chat. From different ways to grip a ball to correct landing and follow-through, Ashwin did not hold back as he imparted knowledge to a keen learner.
As Bangladesh prepare for their next assignment, Mehedi is carrying back fond memories of the tour. “I am very happy today that I got to meet Ashwin and even Virat Kohli later. Ashwin has done so well in the last few years and has so much experience. I had an excellent time with him. His tips are going to be very useful.”
Having played just five Tests, Mehedi said he wanted to build his repertoire. “I have a high arm action and can bowl in good areas, which are my plus points. I want to add more variety and vary my pace. I spoke to Ashwin about it. He told me to stick to my strengths. His advice was to follow my instincts and bowl in the manner I feel most comfortable in.”