Mustafiz not bothered by role reversal in T20s

From a wicket-taker, Mustafiz has become a middle-over bowler for Bangladesh in T20Is

Mustafizur Rahman bowling at the Muscat Shakib Cricket Academy in Rupganj on 3 January, 2023Prothom Alo

“If they ask you to bowl right-handed, can you do it?”– this was the only thing left to ask. Other than that, I had already asked every possible question about his bowling and Mustafizur Rahman had the same answer for all of those queries.

“Whatever they tell me to do, I can do it. I enjoy bowling in all situations,” the reply was also followed by a polite smile.

If a list is made of cricketers who give brief answers to every question, Mustafiz’s name is certain appear somewhere around the top. This, however, is not a flaw. Mustafiz’s job is to play cricket, inundate the team with joy with his bowling. If he can continue doing that consistently, why should he bother himself with too much talk!

Mustafizur Rahman will play for Comilla Victorians in BPL 2023
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On Tuesday morning, Mustafiz, the Comilla Victorians pacer, took part in a practice match at the Masco Shakib Cricket Academy in Rupganj. After the match, Mustafiz was lying on the lush green grass gallery at the side of the field and soaking up the sun after taking his lunch. That’s where the chat with Mustafiz took place, where the pacer smiled more, spoke less.

Perhaps, the reason behind Mustafiz’s demeanor was that he really didn’t have anything further to say. Mustafiz’s smile and words formed a clear summary of the entire discussion. That is, Mustafiz no longer feels any anxiety when asked to perform a task with the ball, no matter what it is.

Mustafiz in action
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Mustafiz has no issue if the captain hands him the new ball, no problem to bowl with a slightly more worn ball at the middle overs or come into the attack at the 15th-16th over to close out the innings. Mustafiz is ready to do it all.

Me and Mustafiz spoke about his bowling in T20s. Recently, the number of wickets in Mustafiz’s wickets’ column have dried up considerably.

At the T20 World Cup in Australia, Mustafiz claimed three wickets from five matches, going wicketless in three games. However, there is no scope of claiming that Mustafiz is not bowling well.

Mustafiz is being brought into the attack during times when curbing the opposition’s run-scoring is the primary goal. He has found success in doing so with his controlled bowling. In simple words, the batsmen didn’t go after him, so he also couldn’t take any wickets. However, his wicket tally could’ve looked slightly better had the dropped catches off his bowling were taken.

The next part of the conversation went something like this:

– How is your bowling coming about right now?

Mustafiz: I always bowl well. Have I really ever had a bad period with the ball? There is no problem with my bowling.

– After the BPL, the IPL is also coming up. You will definitely have IPL in your mind when you take part at the BPL…

Mustafiz: Why? There are also national team’s matches in between the tournaments. I have to take it part by part. I always just focus on the task at hand.

– Your role in the bowling department has changed a bit. You are focusing more on limiting run-scoring of the opponents rather than taking wickets…

Mustafiz: I have different roles in different teams. At the national team, the BPL and the IPL, the roles are different. However the team wants me to bowl, I have to bowl accordingly. I don’t know how I am expected to bowl for Comilla for this edition of the BPL. But I can bowl at any situation.

I also spoke with Comilla Victorians coach Mohammad Salahuddin about Mustafiz’s bowling. Even he has noticed that Mustafiz’s role at the national team has changed, “At the national team, he is entrusted to concede fewer runs. He is being brought into the attack after the powerplay and is being used till the 16th over. Batsmen don’t play too many attacking shots during that period as a result he is not getting too many wickets.”

Mustafiz speaks with his Comilla Victorians teammate Mukidul Islam during a practice session
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When asked what Mustafiz’s role will be with the Victorians, Salahuddin said, “He is our best bowler. We want him to take wickets. We will use him accordingly.”

For the man who claims to enjoy bowling at all situations, Mustafiz will surely love bowling to take wickets at the BPL.

*This report appeared in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten for the English edition by Ashfaq-Ul-Alam Niloy