June 2015. A teenager fast bowler shocks the imposing Indian bat composition in 3 ODI. This feat was not only felt in his country. it also sent shock and made the cricket world pay attention.
April-May, 2016. The IPL Sunrisers Hyderabad team bet on the fast bowler, who turned 20 years old. He won this with his bright colors – his turn from bouncers, slower balls and cutters, who bottled Indian footballers last year, did his job again to win the “Emerging Player” award of the tournament and helped him. Hyderabad to win a first IPL title.
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That immediately made Mustafizur Rahman, the crown jewel of Bangladesh’s fast bowler pipeline, a global sensation – expected to be the next big thing. He was well on his way to achieving this. It had all the features to replace the world class of the legendary Mashrafe Mortaza.
But not all are fairy tales, at least not in cricket. He injured his shoulder in late 2016 and needed surgery. At first it was believed that a few months of rest would return him to optimal. But that did not happen – he was misled for the next 2 years, with his historical skills – bouncers, slower balls, cutters – becoming so one-dimensional that his performances initiated him.
After an unforgettable 2018, it started to become more active as 2019 was released. The weapons in his arsenal started to work much better. The 2019 World Cup ended as one of the top 5 players, albeit in a high economy. By the end of that year, it was becoming increasingly apparent that we were close to returning to prime-Fizz.
The Covid-19 pandemic meant that by 2020 it was virtually gone for Bangladesh. When international cricket resumed in January, Mustafiz started where he left off, continuing his gradual upward curve. IPL 2021 had really accelerated his recovery.
As Mustafiz later said, Calcutta coach Siddhartha Lahiri for IPL Rajasthan Royals helped him a lot and gave him technical advice that meant he was able to use his powers much more effectively. Overall guidance from the Basel coaching staff meant he had now taken some of his original form back.
The difference in his technique is now obvious. After the injury, Mustafiz used to cut his cutters, catching the ball with only two fingers. The pattern of his bouncers and slower balls was very predictable without variations. Now he catches the ball with three fingers as he erases his cutters. The variations on his players and the slower balls mean that he is returning to his unpredictable best.
This was evident in the ongoing Bangladesh-Australia T20I series. Bowling and its variations confused the Australians so much that they even struggled to get the ball. He was economical, picked critical wickets and was extraordinarily consistent. The curious 19th in the 3rd T20I who decided the series, where he accepted only one run with Australia having 6 wickets and needing 23 out of 12, will be long remembered.
With Mustafiz returning to his best, steps must be taken to ensure he stays there. Always has always been better at limited overs compared to Tests. It should be for limited overs only, with the Shoriful-Taskin-Rahi trio available for testing. His rehabilitation sessions and diet need to be improved to increase his effectiveness.
He should also be given more chances to play in top T20 leagues, such as IPL, Big-Bash, etc.
Inqiad Bin Ali is crazy after the brilliant series of Tigers T20I against Australia and believes that The Fizz is back to its best. Suggest some TV series to watch at firstname.lastname@example.org