The Mustafizur question
Will Mustafizur Rahman play Bangladesh's opening one day international against New Zealand at the Hagley Oval on Monday?
The 21-year-old left-arm fast bowler is eager to play, but soreness and stiffness on the left side of his body -- which has so far limited his athleticism while fielding, especially his ability to throw from the deep -- is the most worrying aspect for the team management at the moment.
“Mustafizur has not been playing for quite some time. He has just come back and played one game. So we will make sure everything goes well with him. Yes, he is good but he has some stiffness and soreness. He is being monitored and it's so far so good,” was the observation of Bangladesh bowling coach and West Indies great Courtney Walsh.
“If the coach and captain want, I will play,” said the soft-spoken Mustafizur after a training session in Christchurch on Saturday.
Mustafizur has just returned after recovering from a shoulder operation on July 22. He played the only practice game in Auckland on December 22 against a New Zealand XI, but despite getting into the wickets-column straightaway in that game, he looked a bit uncomfortable with his throwing and diving on the field.
“I'm still feeling slight pain, but it's not in my shoulder. It's in my side. The physio said it will be there [for a while]. My throwing is not good at the moment. It will gradually improve,” said the young sensation, who was recently declared ICC's Emerging Player of 2015-16.
“I'm not trying my cutters with the new ball during practice but doing it with the old ball,” said the bowler who shot to fame with those lethal cutters.
Prone to homesickness and not very comfortable with the cuisine overseas, something that was evident during his Indian Premier League stint with Sunrisers Hyderabad last year, the young pace bowler said that he always feels comfortable while touring with the national team.
“No problem with the food. I have just finished my meal -- rice. If I'm with the team I don't feel any problem with food or anything else,” Mustafizur said with a broad smile on his face.
Asked how eager he was to come back to international duty, the otherwise shy Mustafizur replied with one sentence: “Who doesn't want to play?”
The team management still has one more day to make up its mind, but apart from the fielding aspects, Mustafizur's bowling fears are more mental than physical. And, like many Bangladeshis, even the New Zealand fans want to see him in action in the Boxing Day ODI.
This reporter, while buying a 2degrees SIM card from Christchurch's buzzing city centre -- which was having its last business day before the Christmas holidays -- was a bit surprised when the salesman of the shop proudly showed a picture of Mustafizur with his father.
“My father actually drove your players to Christchurch. He posted this photo. He [Mustafizur] is a very good fast bowler. He is as popular as Shakib [Al Hasan] in Christchurch”, said the young New Zealander.