‘Fizz ahead of the pack’

Bangladesh pace sensation Mustafizur Rahman. File Photo: AFP

Mustafizur Rahman, Bangladesh left-arm seamer, might have missed the 2016 Indian Premier League Qualifier against Gujarat Lions on Friday (May 27) due to an injury, but he is well on way to becoming the best pacer in the world in limited-overs cricket.

Since the time Australia's Mitchell Starc went down with an injury, world cricket has seen the emergence of the lanky Mustafizur, who is making life difficult for batsmen in One-Day Internationals and Twenty20 Internationals. Be it his yorkers, off-cutters or the subtle changes in pace, the Bangladesh boy has been extremely difficult to get away.

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Even in the ongoing IPL, his performances for Sunrisers Hyderabad have proved that he has the ability to keep doing it, game after game. Mustafizur, however, isn't getting too excited about this new-found fame. "I am just doing what I love. My only aim is to get better," Mustafizur told TOI.

There have been many bowlers who have been successful with their national teams but when it came to IPL, they found the going tough. The likes of Dale Steyn, Trent Boult or Tim Southee, who have done brilliantly across formats, struggled to get going on the unresponsive pitches in India during the IPL.

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"There are quite a lot of them like James Anderson or Steyn, who are very good in Tests. But right now, Mustafizur is the best pacer in limited-overs," said Rameez Raja, former Pakistan captain who is a part of the IPL commentary pannel. "Our Wahab Riaz is also good, but he is generally in his elements in Tests," he added.

Manoj Prabhakar, Afghanistan's bowling coach and former Indian pacer, too agreed with Rameez. "There is no doubt that Mustafizur is the best bowler right now. Sri Lanka's Lasith Malinga was one who could bowl good yorkers. But right now, Mustafizur is at his peak. He bowls the cutters really fast and has other variations, which he delivers with the same momentum," he noted.

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Mustafizur's economy rate of 6.74 in 15 IPL games underlines what Prabhakar is talking about. Of the 16 wickets that he has taken, many have come at crucial junctures, changing the course of games. Prabhakar also explained how a quality bowler like Steyn often bowls yorkers with cross seam for better control. "If you are struggling to control the swing, it becomes important to bowl cross seam. But Mustafizur doesn't need to do that," Prabhakar said.

Even Krishnamachari Srikkanth, former Indian captain, feels Mustafizur is the best in limited-overs cricket. "There aren't too many better than him at the moment. But he needs to perform like this for some more time before we can say he is the best. For now, he looks ahead of the pack," Srikkanth said.

It's now for the unassuming youngster to stay fit and keep it going for Bangladesh in the days to come.

Hyderabad mentor VVS Laxman celebrates with Mustafizur Rahman. PHOTO: Sunrisers Hyderabad