Mustafizur Rahman’s performance with the ball is thought to be one of the major factors in deciding whether Bangladesh’s World Cup campaign will be a happy one. In that light, despite being punished on the field yesterday in their only warm-up game against India at the Swalec Stadium in Cardiff yesterday, there will be one big positive to take into their World Cup opener against South Africa at the Oval on June 2.
In an opening spell that cost just 19 runs and produced the wicket of India opener Shikhar Dhawan, Mustafizur showed none of the rust that was in evidence even in the preceding tri-series in Ireland, which he started by conceding 80-plus runs against West Indies.
There were two things that stood out yesterday -- that he excelled as a conventional new-ball bowler and that he was consistently clocking upwards of 135 kmph, which makes the slower cutters that he is known for all the more venomous.
His bowling brain was also working well -- he outfoxed Dhawan with two outswingers, followed by two inswingers and just when the left-hander was expecting an away-swinger, another inswinger caught him plumb front. He also continued to be the only Bangladesh bowler who uses the bouncer to good effect, such as when he surprised Virat Kohli in the ninth over when he was getting too comfortable coming forward.
It was not perfect from Mustafizur; he did overuse the short delivery and was tonked for two sixes by KL Rahul near the end, but it will be a big problem solved for Bangladesh if the Fizz can carry on in this vein.