Promising Bangladesh pacer Mustafizur Rahman — Fizz to friends — never lets success get to his head and says rather modestly that he would be happy to be remembered as a “good human being” if he does not make it to cricketing folklore, little realising he may have already reached there….writes Debayan Mukherjee
The shy, 21-year-old speedster who burst into limelight on debut in 2015 when India toured Bangladesh, is only the second player to have returned fivers in his first two One-Day Internationals (ODIs).
At 19, the wiry left-arm pacer with a tendency to thrive on off-cutters to reap dividends, made giant holes in the hallowed Indian batting line-up boasting of the likes of Virat Kohli, M.S. Dhoni, Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane.
It was because of his 5-50 and 6-43 in his first two ODIs that once-minnows Bangladesh won those games and the three-match series, their first India haul.
Only Zimbabwe’s Brian Vitori has two five-wicket hauls in his first two ODIs besides Fizz.
“I never let success get into my head. You guys keep asking me about being something big, great talent and so on… I am unfazed,” Mustafizur told IANS during a one-on-one while plying his trade for Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
“If I cannot become a great cricketer, I will at least want to be remembered as a good human being,” the soft-spoken, Khulna-born 21-year-old said.
In the World T20 last year, Mustafizur displayed his variation of cutters in the Super 10 match against New Zealand at the Eden Gardens, returning 5-22.
“In this format of the game (T20), you need variations. Every bowler will have his stock ball. But you need to vary your deliveries in order to get success,” the off-cutter specialist said.
Known as a bowler who has a bagful of tricks and uses his variations tactfully, Mustafizur returned not the same bowler after shoulder surgery last August.
He wasn’t impressive in New Zealand, where he got just one wicket, and was subsequently given a break, thereby staying out of action in the one-off Test against India in February.
“I was not fit for the series,” Mustafizur promptly replied when asked whether he missed being part of the tie. Many reports have claimed that he was essentially not picked.
During Bangladesh’s last tour of Sri Lanka, Mustafizur scalped eight wickets in two Tests, six in three ODIs and four in two T20 games.
“I am happy with my ODI bowling (against Sri Lanka). What I wanted was not happening and I could not get the ball in the right areas. The length was a problem too. In the last ODI, I was getting back my rhythm I thought, and T20s was fine I would say.”
Picked in the auction last year by Sunrisers, Mustafizur is in his second season with the franchise.
“I don’t have any target in mind. I always try to give my best and help my team win at the end of the day,” he signed off.