Mehedi, Fizz buck the trend
During a largely successful tour of West Indies, where a sordid Test series defeat led to wins in the ODI and T20I series, a frequent talking point has been the lack of contributions from the junior members of the Bangladesh cricket team.
Once again it was the Tigers' fantastic five of Shakib Al Hasan, Masharfe Bin Mortaza, Tamim Iqbal, Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah Riyad who were the stand-out performers.
After repeated disappointments, even the seniors at one point stated that junior players need to step up and contribute. While most of the juniors were unable to respond, there were two who bucked the trend.
Off-spinner Mehedi Hasan Miraz and left-arm seamer Mustafizur Rahman showed glimpses of what they are capable of and played vital roles.
In the disastrous Test series -- which started in Antigua with them being bundled out for their lowest score of 43 -- it was the 20-year-old Mehedi who showed the appetite to learn and he was the only bright spot for Bangladesh.
In the first Test where nothing seemed to be going right for the Tigers, it was Mehedi who managed to disturb the West Indies batters with his tight line and variations.
He bowled the most overs among the Bangladesh bowlers and was able to pick three wickets from his 34 overs and, as importantly, conceded runs at just 2.97 an over.
Mehedi went on to impress in the second Test in Jamaica where the 20-year-old picked two wickets in an over in consecutive deliveries on way to figures of five for 93 from his 29 overs -- his fourth five-wicket haul. He followed it up by picking another two in the second innings, this time with the new ball.
In the ODI series Mehedi was impressive, opening the innings and kept things tight against big hitters like Chris Gayle and Even Lewis. Despite picking up just three wickets the youngster played his role pretty well with an economy rate of just over four through the series.
He was however dropped after the first T20I mostly because of the team combination but the youngster is on the path to establishing himself in all three formats for the Tigers.
It was also a comeback series for Mustafizur, having missed out on the Test series due to injury, who had a lot to prove and when it mattered, the 22-year-old was able to deliver.
Although he was on the expensive side, Mustafizur looked in rhythm in the ODI series and picked up five wickets. The team management must have breathed a sigh of relief because a fit and firing Mustafizur makes the team stronger.
Perhaps his best came in the shortest format. Mustafizur finished as the top wicket-taker with eight scalps in the three-match T20I series. His economy rate remains a concern but the left-arm seamer was able to pick wickets at crucial junctures. It was the 'Fizz' who dismissed the dangerous Andre Russell, who was single-handedly taking his side towards the win during the third and series-deciding T20I at Lauderhil.
But Mustafizur removed Russell and ensured a memorable series win for the Tigers with figures of three for 31.
Mehedi and Mustafizur's performances were some of the most important positives from the tour as it not only contributed to much-needed wins, but also showed their misfiring peers that juniors too can perform.