“One day… I’d like to become a player like him…,” wrote Akeal Hosein, then a teenager trying to climb through the ranks in Trinidad’s domestic scene, about his wish to be like India’s left-arm spin all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja on his Twitter account in 2013.
Six years later, Hosein, a left-arm spin all-rounder, got to interact with Jadeja, his idol, when he was summoned for bowling in the Indian team nets at Queen’s Park Oval. Once practice got over, Hosein had a chance to speak to Jadeja about how he should plot his rise to playing cricket at the international level.
“I was asking him; how does he go about being able to grasp opportunities with both bat and ball even before he reached on the India team. He told me that it is something you have to go about and get. You got to approach your club coaches, regional coaches and tell them you need the opportunity because it’s going to be very difficult to just jump on the international scene and then being able to perform with the bat in crucial times.”
“So, you have to make sure that you are in a position to get that opportunity at club and regional level and when you rise at international cricket, it’s a bit easier for you. So, that was mainly the conversation,” recalls Hosein in a conversation with IANS.
Cut to now, and Hosein is a member of the West Indies ODI side to kick-start the series against India on Friday. Since his international debut in 2021, Hosein has been a constant starter in the white-ball for the West Indies, including playing in India in February this year.
“It’s always difficult when you come up against a team which is number one or two in the world. But yes, having played against them, you have one or two little tips to take into this next series. You are always much more boosted with confidence when playing in your backyard, so just put everything into play,” stated Hosein ahead of facing India at home.
Though he was not at his best during the white-ball series against Bangladesh, Hosein is currently leading the wicket-taking charts of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League, with 35 scalps in 20 matches at an average of 23.37 and economy rate of 4.46. He sees his role in the West Indies side a mix of being a containing and attacking bowler and is eager to put up a good show in ODIs at his home.
“It all depends on the day and in the situation as well as the conditions and what the team wants. I am open to bowling in any phase of the game, to be honest. I am from Trinidad, but I have got wickets where there is no turn and also got some wickets where you got a lot of turn. So, I am just open for any challenge and I will try to make that adjustment quick if it is spinning or not.”
Apart from his relentless accuracy with the ball, Hosein has been chipping in with some crucial runs too, which he terms as “pleasing”. After taking Player of the Series award in ODI series win against the Netherlands, Hosein gave an exhibition of his batting skills in the third ODI against Pakistan in Multan, hitting a sparkling 37-ball 60, which included six sixes.
“From Netherlands, it was definitely being able to get my team over the line by some good bowling performances. In Pakistan, I would say to get an opportunity with the bat and actually get some runs, which was very pleasing. But I am still disappointed by that match where I couldn’t get the team closer or over the line. It is pleasing to see that I can start helping my team with the bat as well.”
Hosein comes across as someone who likes to work on variations with the ball. But at the same time, he wants to continue working on things which have fetched him success till now. “It’s something important (working on variations). But having said that, you don’t want to stray away too much from what has been working for you. That’s something which Dwayne Bravo told me. Yes, it’s good to keep evolving but it is also good to kind of keep it simple for whatever is working for you.”
Since the retirement of Kieron Pollard, Nicholas Pooran has stepped up as the white-ball leader. Hosein feels that the side under the left-handed batter is bonding well despite results on the field going up and down.
“It’s been pretty good so far. One of Nicky’s strengths has been that he is making sure that the team is close together, which is something we have been preaching in the dressing room. Everyone can approach him as he is a very open and fun guy. So, it’s been going great so far.”