India v Bangladesh, Asia Cup, Dhaka February 23, 2016

Mustafizur shields himself from pressure - Mashrafe

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Mashrafe Mortaza on Mustafizur Rahman: "He believes in his variations, not what the batsman will do with them." © AFP

Mustafizur Rahman became the toast of Bangladesh last season when he took India down, becoming only the second bowler to take five-wicket hauls in his first two ODIs. His remarkable run in 2015 even led to a place in the ICC's ODI team of the year.

On the day before Bangladesh's clash against India, Virat Kohli credited Mustafizur, saying that he "spiced the game up" with his pace as well as cutters.

"Mustafizur has done really well in the past one year," Kohli said. "Since he played against us, he has bowled well for Bangladesh. It was exciting to see a 19-year old bowling slower balls and touching 140 clicks. He came on board and did really well. It was different for us as well to experience. He was bowling slower balls and cutters with the new ball. He spiced the game up a bit more, which is always exciting.

"Look at Kagiso Rabada for South Africa, he is a very exciting bowler. So it is very good for the game when you have bowlers coming in and making life difficult for the batsmen. If you are playing in conditions like in Bangladesh and a guy can come in and take four-five wickets and trouble the batsmen all over, it makes the game more competitive."

Mustafizur, though, is shy and hardly likes the attention trained on him. Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza identified Mustafizur's ability to shut out all the attention and pressure as his major strength.

"Mustafizur doesn't really have a clue about all of this attention," Mortaza said. "And I am sure that even if he notices these things, he doesn't spend too much time thinking about it. I think it is something he was born with, that he doesn't really take pressure upon himself.

"He is always confident. He can deliver the slower ball, which we call cutter, in various ways. He doesn't think about an opposition or a particular batsman before a game. He thinks about his own performance mainly.

Mashrafe also warned that doing "homework" on Mustafizur might backfire. "He believes in his variations, not what the batsman will do with them," Mashrafe said. "This mindset keeps him ahead, makes him win the battles. If you try to do homework on him, it will still be difficult to face him."

Mustafizur, however, will have to prove his fitness first, having missed the last two T20s against Zimbabwe last month because of a shoulder injury, which has apparently been connected to delivering one of his slower balls. The injury had forced Mustafizur out of the Pakistan Super League as well.

Mashrafe was wary of India's batting and called for a collective bowling performance to ease the burden off Mustafizur. Bangladesh's success against India last year was built on pace, and this time, too, they have a well-stacked pace attack; the likes of Taskin Ahmed, Al-Amin Hossain and Abu Hider will assist Mashrafe and Mustafizur.

"Everyone else have to help Mustafizur because the India batting line-up is a tough one," Mashrafe said. We have to make fewer mistakes as a bowling unit to do well in this game."

Even Kohli felt Mustafizur would be crucial to Bangladesh's chances in the tournament. "As a batsman also, you feel okay, this guy [Mustafizur] has got a different set of skills, and you've got to prepare differently, tackle him differently," Kohli said. "So you improve your game. He is obviously going to be a big factor for Bangladesh in this tournament."

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • cricbv on February 24, 2016, 12:32 GMT

    Soumya sarkar and Mustafizur will take bangla cricket a long way

  • cricbv on February 24, 2016, 12:26 GMT

    Rabada, Bumrah and Mustafizur are the bowlers to watch out for. Raw talent.

  • cricbv on February 24, 2016, 12:24 GMT

    Excellent reactions of Murtuza and Mustafizur. Loving every moment of it. Is it legal there.

  • Mahmud Miah on February 24, 2016, 11:59 GMT

    inshallah hopefully bangladesh will give india a good game,hope to see young players playing without fear. bangladesh can win if they play as a unit .

  • Fictionaliser on February 24, 2016, 11:52 GMT

    Best of luck to all young stars - Rabada, Mustafizur, Bumrah, etc ... yes the way the pitch played in the U19 CWC finals between India & WI & the recent T20 against SL, one can expect a lot of havoc created by quicks!

  • Meer Zafar Abbas on February 24, 2016, 7:22 GMT

    Bangladesh will win.............

  • MyBat_MyRules on February 24, 2016, 6:39 GMT

    hi , do any of you gys remember Isuru Udana of srilanka who was a big hit in 2009 T20 WC, with his slower ones?

  •   Muhammad Rakib Hasan on February 24, 2016, 4:57 GMT

    MASKING_TAPE , You just hit the bulls eye. With Mustafizur, Rabada and the coming back of Amir has and will make the life of batsmen harder. I still remember Rabada's Hat trick against us. 2 more young bowler's are coming from West Indies, Alzarri Joseph being one of them. It's always good to see fast bowlers shooting batsman down.

  •   Muhammad Rakib Hasan on February 24, 2016, 4:52 GMT

    MK49_VAN may be he is another Mendis, who knows? But I believe Mustafizur has more variations under his belts than we know off. He is not the kind of bowler who shows all of his strengths in one go. He has the ability to read the batsman's mind and that does make him smart. Any batsman at any given day can read his slower one's, but that is not the only ball he has under his sleeves. The fact that he can ball 140 kph delivery after a 90 kph one makes him truly unpredictable and a future prospect.

  • Masking_Tape on February 24, 2016, 4:16 GMT

    Can we, for the love of cricket and sake of all things that are holy, hope that young bowlers like Mustafizur, Rabada become legends, in paradise of all-things-batting? I mean, when Virat Kohli can see the bright side in these prospects, even being Kohli and the immediate opponent, I think we should be able to see it too.

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