Mehidy Hasan Miraz is the next big thing in Bangladesh cricket.
The right-arm off-spinner bowled Bangladesh to its maiden series victory over Sri Lanka across formats last week. Miraz’s figures of 4/30 and 3/28 in the first two ODIs with the new ball escalated him to the second spot in the ICC ODI rankings for bowlers. He is only the third Bangladesh bowler after Shakib Al Hasan and Abdur Razzak to break into the top two.
Miraz is a fine batsman, too. In February, the 23-year-old scored his maiden Test hundred (103 at No. 8) against West Indies in Chattogram. He was unlucky that Kyle Mayers’ unbeaten 210 in the record chase of 395 flattened the first innings visuals.
After the ODI series win over the islanders and ahead of Bangladesh’s domestic premier division T20 tournament, Sportstar rang up Miraz for a free-wheeling chat.
How do you feel being the No. 2 ODI bowler? Were you aware of your points (725) and that you could be right behind Trent Boult?
I had no idea about it. I heard it later. I feel this is a motivating factor since it’s been just four years since I started my international career. If I can stay in the top 10 now, it is a big gift. I hope I can fine-tune myself from here on. These things boost your confidence and you start believing in your abilities a little bit more. Even in tough times, a player can win you a game if he has the confidence to do so.
You are an all-rounder but you don’t get enough opportunities to bat…
Being an all-rounder is an opportunity. I have batted a lot in U-19 cricket. People are aware that I am a decent batsman by god’s grace. But now, whatever little opportunity I get, I try to work it out but if I get more chances in better situations, I can improve as a batsman and develop my skills. Now due to the team combination, I bat late in the order because there are a lot of senior batsmen in the team. If opportunities come in the future, I will do my best.
You may have to bat up the order for that…
A batsman cannot rise through the ranks suddenly. It is a gradual improvement. Today if you see, international batsmen haven’t turned consistent overnight. They reached that point after playing for a good three to five years. Today, we call Mushfiqur Rahim dependable. He is a very successful batsman but when he started, he never got a chance to bat where he wanted to. He is steady in his spot now.
What worked in your favour in the series against Sri Lanka?
In ODI cricket, what I try to do is contain the runs. I never think about wickets. If I can dry up the runs, it increases the chance of getting wickets. The batsman may throw it all away by trying to attack. If I try to forcefully get a wicket, I may end up leaking runs.
Would you say losing that first Test, and the series to the West Indies was the most challenging phase for Bangladesh?
We struggled a bit during that period. In Sri Lanka, we bowled well but we couldn’t get all their batters out. So that also felt very challenging.
Bangladesh’s Mehidy Hasan Miraz celebrates with teammates after dismissing Kusal Perera during the first ODI against Sri Lanka in Dhaka. – AFP
Did you ever feel that Mayers could win the Test match for the West Indies?
I never expected him to play that knock and chase the target down. We were looking for a wicket because it would have been tough for a new batsman to keep up the momentum. Also, we dropped catches and our review calls were poor.
In the second T20I in Napier against New Zealand, DLS sheets went missing and a re-revised target was thrown at Bangladesh after play had already started. What exactly happened?
We had no idea what was happening. All of us were getting irritated because of the uncertainty of the target. But people make mistakes. None of us had been through a situation like that. Hopefully, such things won’t happen in the future.
What do you feel about the Asia Cup cancellation?
It is sad news. The more we play against each other, the more experience we gain. But then, we also have to understand that the world is going through the COVID-19 pandemic. Even then, there is some cricket happening. My focus is now on the domestic games.
How tough will it be for you to make a comeback in T20I cricket? This is the World Cup year…
I haven’t played T20I for close to two years but if there is an opportunity, I will prepare mentally. I want to work on the skills that I lack by talking to the coach. I will polish myself based on the team’s requirements.
How important are the games that Bangladesh plays against weaker teams such as Zimbabwe? There is a tour in July…
Every series is important to me. Even the ones against Zimbabwe as it is international cricket. But yes, you can improve faster as a player if playing against the big guns. This year, we are playing England, Australia, Pakistan and also, India. Against a big side, you have less margin for error and you have to constantly be on your toes. Against Zimbabwe, you can perhaps cross the line but against big sides, you have to be extraordinary.
Who are the favourites to win the World Test Championship?
India has good pacers and they are a strong team. So they can exploit the conditions in England but I think New Zealand stands an equal chance. The team that makes lesser mistakes will run away with the game.