Guns and roses: The story of Mehidy Hasan Miraz

Bangladesh all-rounder Mehidy Hasan Miraz is a changed man after surviving the Masjid Al Noor mosque attack in Christchurch this year.

Bangladesh all-rounder Mehidy Hasan in action against India in the first Test in Indore.   -  AP

 

You can’t keep Mehidy Hasan Miraz out of nets. When done with the off-breaks, he bats or fields or engages in discussions with the coaches; he is constantly trying to evolve.

Miraz doesn’t miss his daily prayers. That, perhaps, is the only short break he takes while training. He thanks the almighty everyday for keeping him alive. The Bangladesh all-rounder was among the players who had dodged the Christchurch mosque shooting in March. They had taken cover on the floor of the team bus, parked a stone throw away from the site of the terror attack.

On the sidelines of the Test series against India, Sportstar sat down with Miraz to listen to his near-death experience and how it is driving him to excel as a human being and a cricketer.

It was a ghastly start to the year. There were more than 50 casualties in the mosque attack. You married your long-time partner within six days of that incident. Did that help erase negative thoughts?

It definitely did. One should spread love to fight the negativity. It was probably the most deadly incident in my life. The fear stayed for a long time. It changed my approach towards life. We were on our way to the mosque but God saved us in the nick of time. I would have died. My body would have gone deep into the soil by now. We all got scared as we saw the incident unfold in front of our eyes. You mostly see such things — guns and blood — in the movies. We were barely 50 metres away. That’s why these days, whenever I am free, I try to spend as much time with my family. I hardly go out of Bangladesh. At times, we go to our native place in Barishal.

How long did it take to be normal?

It took a while. A lot of good things happened after that, including this series against India. Playing the World Cup for Bangladesh was a great experience too.

Bangladesh was no match in the Test series. What were your learning points?

I am trying to focus on Test cricket now. It is a great learning curve to play in India. If you perform well here, it will only get easier to cement your spot in the side. There are world-class bowlers and batsmen here, which is a big opportunity for me. Bowling to them and batting against them is a blessing.

Being an off-spinner, who do you look up to?

Ravichandran Ashwin. I always follow his bowling. I will talk to him soon to clear a few doubts. I had spoken to him extensively after the Hyderabad Test in 2017. He had given me valuable tips. Now I see he has added a lot more variations. He has improved and in return, I want to be an improved bowler by studying him.

What was the special Ashwin tip?

We had spoken mostly on the grip. And he had told me how to bowl according to the situation.

But Ashwin isn’t your first idol…

It’s Ramesh Powar [former India off-spinner]. I started bowling after watching his action.

You’ve been batting a lot in the nets. What is your vision with regards to batting?

I want to improve as a batsman too. I need to raise my average from 17 to 34, that should be the first target at the moment. I can only be called and trusted as an all-rounder if I can get my average to 30+. That will give me an edge.

Mehidy Hasan watches the ball after playing a shot during the third day of the first Test against India in Indore.   -  AFP

 

Franchise T20 leagues can be a distraction, and you have seen a bit of it through Bangladesh Premier League and Caribbean Premier League. How do you plan to balance?

I feel every format demands different skill sets and approach. T20 needs more variations, how to contain the batsmen and all. But in Tests, the mental strength is more important. That’s what I am trying to learn.

You had picked 19 wickets against England in 2016 in your debut series. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also gifted you a house after that...

Yes, she did. She really inspired me and told me to achieve things for the country. She wanted me to do well in the World Cup. The experience gained at the Cricket World Cup was massive.

A series in India won’t happen that regularly. Which other team you like playing against?

I find Sri Lanka competitive. It is challenging as we play in the sub-continent with both sides having good spinners in its ranks. It helps a spin bowler like me.

Miraz in numbers

Tests: 22

Wickets: 90

Best bowling: 7/58

50s: 2

HS: 68*

ODIs: 38

Wickets: 37

Best bowling: 4/29

50s: 1

HS: 51