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Promising offie Mehedi Hasan savours interaction with R Ashwin

Notes from young spinner’s priceless interaction with world’s No. 1 bowler

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.

“I was looking forward to meet him ever since the time we landed in India. After the match, I asked him how to handle certain situations. I have no experience of match situations. He encouraged me. He said I had the potential to have a long and successful international career and advised me to work really hard. He has so many variations, so I asked him about his different deliveries.”

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.”

Moulin Parikh
Moulin Parikh

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Umesh’s day out

On an unresponsive pitch, Umesh Yadav delights with his probing spells coupled with reverse swing

Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar is one of the biggest admirers of Umesh Yadav’s fielding prowess. Whenever on air, he makes it a point to highlight Umesh’s athletic built and more particularly his strong throwing arm. Having picked up the lone Bangladesh wicket to fall on Day Two, Umesh was again instrumental in the fall of the second wicket and the first of the third morning when his quick pick up and release resulted in a run-out of Tamim Iqbal.

Incidentally Gavaskar was on air and Umesh’s clean act delighted him. Umesh continued to be in the thick of the action for the first day as he trapped Mominul Haque in the front with an in swinger. It was evident that the pacer from Nagpur was having a fine day as he probed Bangladesh batsmen with his pace and reverse swing.

While Shakib endured a tough time in the middle but somehow managed to survive, Rahim too fought his way through as the two shared a 107-run stand. On an unresponsive pitch, Indian seamers Ishant Sharma, Bhunveshwar Kumar and Umesh combined well to hit the right lengths. The partnership was ended by R Ashwin who had Shakib caught when he danced down the track, the fielder being Umesh again.
The speedster then spoke to BCCI.TV about his eventful day.

The probing morning spell

I realized that the ball was going to reverse after just the first two balls that I bowled in the morning. I must give credit to Ishant and Bhunveshwar for the way they maintained the ball on Day 2. I was focusing on bowling right lengths and at the same time was using the width of the crease, making subtle changes as the ball was reversing and the carry too was very good.

'Arm'ageddon – The Tamin Iqbal run out

As a fast bowler, you need to be a good athlete as it helps both your bowling and fielding. I know I can run fast and cover a lot of ground. If I field well, I can save runs for the team and also of my fellow bowlers.

When Cheteshwar Pujara was running after the ball, I did not think they would take two runs. When I saw they were going for the second run, I sensed an opportunity. I followed an important rule of fielding, which is clean pick up and throw. I collected the ball with my left hand, transferred it to the right and threw it at Bhuvneshwar Kumar's end. My aim was to get the ball to land near the stumps. Bhuvneshwar was standing at the right place and at the right time. He went back after his follow through and collected the ball.

The trap for Mominul Haque

I kept bowling outside the off-stump to him and was setting him up. I didn't bowl much to him in between and when he was finally on strike, I knew he would expect an outswinger. The ball was swinging well, so I knew it would hit the pad. I wanted to bowl quick and that is exactly what happened as the ball hit him in front of the stumps.

Ashwin to the rescue as Shakib mistimes

The ball tends to get soft quickly and there was no assistance from the pitch. We knew there would be long partnerships when a batsman shows patience and gets his eye in. Our effort was to reduce the singles and frustrate them. R Ashwin must be credited for the way he trapped Shakib Al Hasan. It was well planned. We had to remain patient as even on the third day, the ball was not turning. It was a disciplined effort.

Moulin Parikh
Moulin Parikh

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