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Match Analysis

Mehidy Hasan Miraz and Litton Das stride towards becoming Bangladesh's next batch of match-winners

Zakir Hasan too, along with Bangladesh's pace attack, garnered praise from captain Shakib Al Hasan

Mohammad Isam
Mohammad Isam
25-Dec-2022
Mehidy Hasan Miraz looked spent after R Ashwin smashed him for a six and two fours. Those hits turned out to be the last of the Dhaka Test and he was visibly dejected as he collected his cap from the umpire.
Mehidy was the one who turned this game into a contest, picking up 5 for 63, but for the first time in his career, this combative Bangladesh offspinner was defeated after picking up a fourth-innings five-for.
He had bowled 18 overs straight, across two days, and was taken out of the attack only when Shakib Al Hasan realised he had to get a bit more creative to break the eight-wicket stand between Ashwin and Shreyas Iyer. When Mehidy came back, instead of creating one more chance, he was at the receiving end of the boundary that signalled India's narrowest win over Bangladesh in Test history.
Mehidy looked crestfallen. Shreyas, with whom he had battled all through the series, saw that and tapped the bowler on his chest as if to say, 'don't feel so bad, man. You gave it absolutely everything.' It was a nice touch. Mehidy got a long hug from Rishabh Pant too, whom he dismissed three times in two matches. And a gift from the man he bested on the third evening to set the alarm bells ringing, Virat Kohli presenting the offspinner with an autographed ODI jersey.
Barring this one over, India's tour has been one to remember for Mehidy. His all-round showing in the ODIs, particularly his batting bailing Bangladesh out twice, was a sign of growth and perhaps of even better things to come. And here, in Dhaka, Mehidy was always going to be key to Shakib's plans regardless of the target Bangladesh would set for India in the fourth innings. He grabbed three wickets on the third evening, and got two more on the fourth morning, including that of Pant. He had done more than enough but just couldn't finish India off.
Speaking on the third evening, Litton Das said that Mehidy was at the top of his game in both white- and red-ball formats, proving himself to be a key player in the Bangladesh set-up.
"He was always good in bowling, and now he is improving in his batting," Litton said. "He got a hundred before me [in this series], so we have to praise him. He is a good allrounder in our team. The first match was difficult for us, as we had to switch from white to red ball in two [four] days. It was tough for them too. The same for bowlers, who have to bowl for a long time. I had a tough time to switch between the two, too. I always rate Miraz as a key player."
It was an interesting time for Litton too, who led Bangladesh in the ODIs in the absence of the injured Tamim Iqbal. Litton's innings against India in the T20 World Cup showed how far he had come as a batter. He went through a bit of a lean patch in the ODIs, but his captaincy stood out in that he chose not to do it alone. It was a small but significant gesture given the Bangladesh dressing room culture, where the senior-junior divide is strong.
Litton's 73 on the third afternoon in Dhaka kept Bangladesh in the game. Counterattack was an interesting way to go when his team was still trailing by 17 runs in the second innings but that is the sort of bold decision-making that Bangladesh need from this generation of cricketers. Litton and Mehidy have shown that they are proactive when the chips are down, particularly against bigger teams like India, and the example they've set is bringing out the best in their team-mates.
Zakir Hasan made the step up from A team in fine style, scoring a Test hundred on debut in Chattogram to go with a gritty half-century in Dhaka. Zakir had a brief taste of international cricket back in 2018 before he was sent into the wilderness again. The 24-year old has built himself a substantial career in first-class cricket without ever catching the selectors' eye - that is until he made 173 against a very strong India A team last month.
Shakib was impressed with Zakir's attitude in the two Tests. "He is very mature. Good temperament, ideal for Test cricket. The sort of batter we were looking for. He is capable of filling an important spot. It is just the start, but I hope he plays more such good innings for Bangladesh.
"Zakir has been around for a long time. He has played 70 [71] first-class matches, and you can see it in his cricket. It is different from someone who is 19 or 20. I want more players like him who can give better service for the next 7 to 10 years."
Bangladesh have another talented opener waiting to be given a second chance and Shakib made sure to remind Mahmudul Hasan Joy what he needed to do to get back in. "Joy is in the system. He has to score runs in the A team, it will give him more opportunities. I want him to grab those chances, and play 100 Tests for Bangladesh."
Shakib also believes that Bangladesh's pace attack is shaping up to become formidable across formats. "We are improving but we are not playing well consistently. In both Tests, the disappointing thing was our first-innings batting. We have more than 500 wickets among the three spinners. Soon we will have fast bowlers with 70-80 wickets. We will have five solid bowlers, who can bowl out any team."
With the pace attack in place, enough quality spinners in the system and young players doing well, this is a good time for the Bangladesh cricket team. Shakib, Tamim and Mushfiqur Rahim are all in the final phases of their international career, so it was imperative that the next generation stepped up. Litton and Mehidy have certainly done that this year and while it didn't end perfectly for either, there's no denying they are in this for the long haul.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84