Bangladesh, a cricketing nation known for its rich abundance of finger spinners-- more so in left-arm spin, has been seeing its revamped shape in international cricket thanks to its rejuvenated pace attack of late.
The success of the Bangladeshi pace attack in the last few years has revolved around one focal point in the individual name Mustafizur Rahman. Being the spearhead of the limited-overs bowling attack for Bangladesh, Mustafizur had hours of unnoticed hard work and dedication.
But, to some extent, Mustafizur will definitely be grateful to the Indian Premier League (IPL) in terms of his skill development and confidence.
Being sold to the Rajasthan Royals (RR) for a base price of INR 1 Crore might not have done justice to the calibre of Mustafizur Rahman in terms of monetary value, however, playing for RR has been a blessing in disguise for him.
The left-arm seamer has bagged 14 wickets at an economy of 8.41 in the 14 matches he has played in the 2021 season of the IPL. Letting the stats take a backseat, two things that have overtaken Mustafizur's performance are his skill set and his growing ability to read the minds of the batters.
Highlighting the latter first takes us back to the match against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB)-- a game many will remember for Mustafizur’s spectacular effort on the boundary line saving a ball that had ‘six’ written all over it.
Mustafizur finished with a figure of 2/20 in that match and was unarguably RR’s best performer that game. Something else that was a standout in that performance was the lead-up to the dismissal of Srikar Bharat (his second scalp).
Srikar’s dismissal was an example of a perfect setup and a bowler being a step ahead of the batter. Fizz bowled 5 slower cutters that over at around a pace of 112 km/h and had a surprise in store for Srikar on the last ball of the over.
He bowled a bouncer ramping up his pace to 133.4 km/h, something the batter was not expecting in the slightest, which led to his dismissal. Bharat was not comfortable in handling the quick bouncer from the Fizz, thus handing a simple catch to substitute fielder Anuj Rawat.
The IPL has also made us witness different skills that Mustafizur has been working on. His back-of-the-hand slower delivery surprised many when he bowled it for the first time against Mumbai Indians in the 1st phase of the tournament.
The IPL has given a platform for Mustafizur to reinvent himself, from playing against world-class players, training under prominent coaches and with talented cricketers to executing different skills on the field.
A lot of credit goes to Rajasthan Royals team management too who gave Mustafizur the freedom to bowl the way he likes.
As the T20 World Cup approaches, Bangladesh’s success as a team, to an extent, will be dictated by the success of Mustafizur Rahman with the ball.
In hindsight, playing all of the matches at the IPL with a decent performance and by being the leader of the RR pace attack, the Fizz will no doubt have his confidence high, something that might work as a catalyst for an inspiring performance at the world stage.
As Mustafizur continues to set new standards for a left-arm seamer in Bangladesh, this coming World Cup will be the stage for this youngster to take things to a different level.