Will the Mustafiz show go on?
He can deceive batsmen almost at will, can break the 140 km barrier every now and then, barely bowls outside his radar and has the hunger to transcend boundaries; at the moment it seems as though Bangladesh's team management will have to create fictional reasons, save for injury issues, to prevent Mustafizur Rahman from getting his first-ever Test cap today.
If he is prevented, then the Tigers will have to revert to pace-bowling combinations that haven't really worked for them in the recent past. Since 2014, for instance, only 28 out of the 131 wickets taken by Bangladesh's bowlers were courtesy of the pacers.
When 19-year-old Mustafizur's name was announced in the 14-member Test squad, there was both a sense of relief and a wave of caution.
Can Mustafizur take the rigours of Test cricket? Should the selectors have given him more time? Considering the fact that the left-armer had only made his ODI debut last month, these questions were inevitable.
While different opinions were reflected in the media and the cricketing fraternity, there wasn't a shadow of doubt in the minds of coach Chandika Hathurusingha and captain Mushfiqur Rahim regarding the move.
"He is good enough to play Test cricket," Hathurusingha said firmly during the pre-match press conference in Chittagong yesterday.
The Sri Lankan further said that it was an advantage to have Mustafizur in the side.
"Having a left-armer in any bowling attack is a different thing because it takes the condition out of the equation since he gives you a different angle. Whenever we can get him into the Test team it will be an advantage," said the head coach.
Mushfiqur echoed the coach's sentiments.
"He has done well in domestic cricket and has bowled well in longer version cricket. In addition, four or five of their batsmen haven't yet faced Mustafizur. So I don't think it will be a surprise if we play Mustafizur on Tuesday," said Mushfiqur.
The team management's confidence stems from the fact that Mustafizur actually has a better record in the longer version of the game in domestic cricket. He has played more four-day games than List-A cricket.
In the 10 first-class matches that he has played, he has scalped 28 wickets at an average of 21.17. In the last National Cricket League, he was the only pacer to take more than 20 wickets in the competition.
His bowling average of 14.81 was the best among the top 10 wicket-takers in that competition. The tournament in February this year saw him bag three four-wicket and one five-wicket hauls in just nine innings.
In fact, officials were so impressed with Mustafizur's bowling in the longer version that his Bangladesh Cricket League (BCL) franchisee, Prime Bank South Zone, opted to exclude the left-armer from BCL's one-day competition and earmarked him just for the league's four-day competition.
The last time a left-arm pacer made a significant impact for Bangladesh was back in 2001, when Monjurul Islam ripped through Zimbabwe's batting order in Bulawayo. A year into Test cricket back then, Monjurul's feat provided hope for Bangladesh. The bowler though had a dismal record from then on, having managed to take just 22 more wickets in the next three years.
14 years on, the inclusion of another left-arm pacer in the Test squad has instilled a sense of excitement. For the sake of the fans, one would hope that this isn't a false dawn.