KARACHI: Indian cricket team prepared for the series against the Bengali Tigers with their recent ferociousness at home in mind. Indian sports channel were also aware of the fact and added ‘Bache ab bache nai rahe’ (The Kids have grown up) in their pre-series previews. The forthcomings were quite evident to the men in blue but they travelled courageously to Bangladesh to break their streak of wins against New Zealand and recently Pakistan.
But amongst the Tigers, rose a five feet 11 inch youngster from Satkhira who displayed glimpses of his greatness in the only T20 against Pakistan – his international debut. Four overs, two wickets for only 20 runs. More than the stats, his skill with the ball affected the confidence of opener Ahmed Shehzad, who was swinging wildly in an attempt to just put his bat on ball.
The wicket of Shahid Afridi might have come as a gift as the Pakistan T20 captain was not happy with the caught behind call but Muhammad Hafeez – his second victim in that T20 – was delivered a perfectly pitched in-swinging delivery on middle which the right-arm batsman was unable to deal with. Plumb LBW.
Mustafizur Rahman had arrived on the cricket scene for Bangladesh. He was not included in the ODI squad against Pakistan nor was he given a go in the Tests — it seemed like Mushrafe Murtaza knew when to unleash him and on whom.
India started the series on the front foot with Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay scoring centuries in a rain-thwarted Test which ended in a draw but the confidence they carried forward was dented by the sheer exuberance of Mustafizur.
India were given a target of 308 to chase in the first ODI at Mirpur and seemed on course during an opening 95-run partnership, but as Shikhar Dhawan (30) and Virat Kohli (1) departed in quick succession off Taskin Ahmed in the 16th and 18th over, the Mustafizur show was on.
The debutant tumbled five Indian batsmen with deceptive off-cutters skilfully concealed in pace and won the man-of-the-match award to mark his dream start.
His first-ever ball in ODIs reckoned impending greatness of this lean left-armer. Rohit Sharma was caught in front of the wicket as Mustafizur swung it back in into the right-hander. Rohit was saved by a slight inside-edge, otherwise, the youngster was on his way to add another highlight in his career; a wicket on his first ball of international 50-over cricket.
Bangladesh won the first match by a convincing 79 runs but this kid won the hearts of all the cricket lovers at home, claiming five wickets and narrowly missing out on a sixth after dropping a caught-and-bowled chance in his final over, which would have seen him become only the ____ bowler to six on debut.
The second ODI had his name written all over first during the preview and later the post-match analysis. Six wickets for just 43 runs in his 10 overs; starting with Rohit’s on the second ball of the match and ending with Ravi Ashwin’s in the 42nd over. Mustafizur didn’t just get batsmen out, he troubled them, he bamboozled them and he left them wondering of his wonderful bowling prowess. MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina and Ravindra Jadeja were his high-profile victims in only his second outing on the big stage.
India could muster up only 200 for Bangladesh to chase and the Tigers walked proudly towards their first-ever series win against India at home courtesy the young prodigy in their bowling attack.
The last ODI did not yield Mustafizur another fifer but he used his treacherous pacy off-cutter to once again undo Suresh Raina to become the talk of the town as he rattled the left-arm batsman’s stumps. Thrice in three innings, Raina was undone by Mustafiqur’s most potent weapon.
Bangladesh lost the last ODI but Mustafizur’s performance to help his team win the series was worth every ode sent his way by cricketing pundits.
Surprisingly, Mustafizur did not mention any greats of the game when asked whom he idealised. Instead, the 19-year-old said he looked up to Pakistan’s banned left-arm pacer Muhammad Amir.
Bangladesh are on a roll as hosts and with the kind of talent they are unearthing, it may not be long before they make their way up the pecking order — if not in the world, then at least in Asia.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ