From the New Zealand series in early 2019, through the World Cup and now the T20I series in India, ace Bangladesh paceman Mustafizur Rahman has struggled to find the means to operate at the level expected of him. Even at the World Cup in England, where he was the third-highest wicket-taker, his haul of 20 wickets could not hide the fact that his effectiveness had decreased.
In the third T20I against India in Nagpur on Sunday, Mustafizur conceded 42 in four overs without a wicket. In fact, he remained wicketless throughout the series. His good deliveries were few and far between and he often lacked the zip that was once his strongest suit. Captain Mahmudullah Riyad, however, defended him after the match.
“I feel that in every cricketer’s life there comes a time when he can’t deliver the way his team wants him to. We all know that he is a champion bowler. I do not believe there is a reason to reevaluate him when he can’t meet expectations and the needs of the team. The way he is working hard and talking to the coach makes me feel that only one game is needed for his self-confidence to return,” Mahmudullah said.
Questions had been posed by reporters about whether talent is enough justification for holding onto one’s place, especially after a series of bad performances. Mahmudullah reiterated that it was up to the team management to decide who plays.
The problem in the third T20I was that Mustafizur banging it in too short. While talking to a few reporters, India’s former left-arm paceman Irfan Pathan pointed out two factors that could help Mustafizur revive his form: the length and the non-bowling arm’s movement.
“Personally, I believe that his length just needs to be fuller. If you look at his career, he mostly got his wickets with fuller deliveries, that is where his variation comes in handy. The other thing which is very, very important is that he needs to make sure that he doesn’t fall away from his body. So, when his non-bowling-arm is going away from his body, especially when he is delivering the ball, he needs to work on that and make sure it doesn’t follow; that it doesn’t just go towards the batsman. If he can do that, he will have more control over his bowling. If he can do this, he will be fine,” Irfan said.
Fizz had exerted himself to attain more pace but with his abilities he perhaps does not need to be express.
“It’s not all about pace; it’s about bowling in the right areas,” Irfan remarked.
It is perhaps time for Mustafizur to take a good look at what has gone wrong, because his non-performance seems less of a blip and more of a trend.