Mustafizur Rahman is a hard name to learn one has to admit, a little bit of a tongue twister. The Indians are learning it the hard way while Mustafizur has the Indian batsmen tied up in knots.
Why is this 19 year old bowler from Bangladesh playing his first couple of matches is giving battle hardened veterans of the Indian cricket team a hard time? One of the basic reasons might be that the battle hardened veterans are also battle weary. After the long campaign in Australia playing a series of test matches, the Indians played a tri-series of ODI’s. Then the long World Cup campaign. Immediately after the worldcup, there is the IPL. Without getting much of a breather, the players go over to Bangladesh in the middle of the monsoon for 1 test match and 3 ODIs. So, the players would be tired in their mind and might have needed time to recharge.
As long as cricket fans want these cricket matches, it should be arranged, but administrators and selectors have plenty of options in India which has wide pool of talent who want to perform for India. It is not about Team A or Team B but there is enough TOP grade talent in India to play competitive cricket. Case in point, is that a bunch of India cricketers who were waiting in the wings who went on their last tour of Bangladesh won easily. India should institutionalize a strict player rotation policy for the well being of the players and also in order to get the best players with right frame of mind and body on the field. This is should be similar to the policy that airlines follow to rest pilots before flights for the safety of the pilots and the passengers.
Now, coming to the issue of why Mustafizur is foxing the Indians, it has to do with his accurate line and length and the Indians inability to read his slow cutters. Let us analyze how he got 6 wickets from the 2 ODI. Below is the pitch map for Mistafizur Rahman
Suresh Raina: Mustafizur bowled only one short ball in the whole innings and that was to Raina, as he has a known weakness to short balls. Raina tried to poke at the ball and run it down to third man as it was outside off, but only succeeded in nicking to wicket keeper.
Akshar Patel: Mustafizur bowled a good length ball on the stumps with the natural left hander’s angle. For a lower order batsman that has come in and is nervous this is an excellent delivery, on-the stumps.
Ravindra Jadeja: Mustafizur got Jadeja with a full ball. He had bowled 3 Full tosses to him as you see from the pitch map, this was his effort to york him. There was a plan and concerted effort to work him. Jadeja fell for the trap and got bowled to an incoming full ball.
Rohit Sharma: Played two balls, defended first ball and wanted to take single but could not. Next ball, good length and leaving the batsman at an angle, Rohit went for the drive, but ball took the outside edge and flew to Sabbir at point. Ideally Rohit should have left the ball alone, but he is known to misjudge on shot selection around his off stump, so it was a planned execution to get him out.
Dhoni and Ashwin: Both got out to slower cutter falling on good length and on the stumps. Dhoni checked his shot but still was too late and lobbed a simple catch, Ashwin got a nick and catch taken by wicket keeper.
Mustafizur had a definite plan for each of the wickets and executed the plan very well. He has managed two 5 fors in as many matches. Will he continue in the same fashion ? Most likely he would not be able to manage the same level of performance and batsman around the world will figure how to play him in due time. But Mustafizur has already bought joy to Bangladesh by playing a key a role in winning a important bilateral ODI series against India. This win has also propelled them and qualified to Champions Trophy.
It is certainly a day to celebrate in Bangladesh, will it bring consistent winning performance from the Bangla tigers remains to be seen.