Mustafizur 2.0 – The Reignition of the Bangla Pacer in IPL 2024

The Bangladeshi leading wicket-taker had been battling bad form for the last two years, keeping him out of the national team too.

The Reignited Mustafizur Rehman

In the last two years, a lot of things have changed for Mustafizur Rahman as the left-arm pacer’s declining form turned out to be a major concern for the national team management.

Since making his debut in 2015, Mustafizur has been the leading wicket-taker for Bangladesh in ODIs and T20Is picking up 127 and 84 wickets respectively but in the last two years, his form has faded considerably.

Mehedy Hasan is leading the charts in ODIs (51 wickets) while Taskin Ahmed has been topping the list for T20Is (33 wickets) since January 2022. Mustafizur during this time frame has picked 37 and 21 wickets respectively across the two formats.

Since 2022, Shoriful Islam and Taskin Ahmed have been the leading wicket-takers respectively in ODIs and T20Is among Bangladeshi pacers. During this phase, Mustafizur’s failure to produce magic in the middle more often than not put his place under scrutiny in the national team.

Since Hathurusingha admitted that Mustafizur is not an automatic choice anymore ahead of the home series against Ireland, this question has been posed quite regularly at different times during their international fixtures. Understandably, that raised doubts over the ability of the cutter-master and his being in and out of the white-ball playing XIs only further validated the fact that his place was not guaranteed, unlike in the past.

Chennai Super Kings’ decision to include Mustafizur in their squad for the ongoing Indian Premier League was a kind of surprise if not anything else, considering his recent form and it was believed that he was picked as a back-up for Matheesha Pathirana.

Mustafizur seemed well aware that it was make or break for him and seized the opportunity by grabbing four wickets on his CSK debut, courtesy injury to Pathirana.

However, Fizz’s form in the IPL did not surprise former Bangladesh pace bowling coach Allan Donald, who worked extensively with him till the last World Cup before quitting the post.

“I think watching Mustafizur, he got his confidence in his stock deliveries now. I mean his pace on deliveries not just his variations that he is so good at. I think Mustafizur’s rhythm looks better than ever. He looks very well balanced and one thing that stands out is he looks fresh and he is enjoying his cricket but if I have to start at the beginning the rhythm is number one when the balls come out and it got pace on.

He got shape on the ball and that’s one thing he was trying to adapt back in Bangladesh when everyone was asking what is going on (with him),” Donald told in an interview on Wednesday.

“He was low in confidence in his stock deliveries and that is swinging the ball into the right-handers and away from the left-handers. Confidence to actually swing the ball away from right-handers and back into the left-handers at will. That’s the first sign I am looking for and I think a lot of people default to a slower ball or off-pace deliveries because they are not sure about how it’s coming out and when there is supposed to be pace on if you understand what I am saying,” he said.

“When Mustafizur is bowling well and he is bowling at a good pace he is swinging the ball late. He started to show in the World Cup a little bit not consistently but it was definitely happening certainly at training and that was the first sign when I said Fizz is looking a lot better and that slower ball is just you know as I said he is just so in control of it right now and he is bowling beautifully. I think he look he looks happy he is confident and he is their (CSK’s) banker at the moment and it’s great to see,” he said.

“The issue I see with special guys who are very good at T20 bowling and especially what Fizz is doing is taking the pace of the ball and it’s been unpredictable and more than 70 percent of the time he is going to mix it up they tend to lose their stock deliveries so it happens with few bowlers.”

“It happened with Broad( Stuart) back in the days and few others I have seen before and just used to seeing taking the pace off consistently and so what that happens is you don’t pay attention to how your stock deliveries come out but what I think when I was there I would focus on a little bit more when he practices that he is very hard on his stock ball on pace ball,” he said.

“I think he can close his eyes and bowl off-pace deliveries in his sleep and that’s how tuned he is and that’s how his muscle memory works and that’s how your brain tells you every single time that’s how you operate in the middle and I would be very hard on him practicing his swinging the ball consistently so that he doesn’t…. he had a wrist issue and a release issue we picked up in New Zealand.”

“A while ago his slower ball was coming out of the side of the hand and not front of the hand and that’s how far you can go in getting it wrong and so I think I would be just more mindful of the fact to remind him for the World Cup in the USA and West Indies that he should concentrate more on his on-pace ball during training just to make sure that late swing doesn’t go and you are not just tuned mentally just to bowl cutters and slower balls and whatever and so if you know what I mean,” he added.

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