T20I bowling performance of the year February 24, 2017

The Fizz brings the balm

Mustafizur Rahman brought a no-consequence match to life with an electrifying display of bowling skill

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Mustafizur Rahman
5 for 22 v New Zealand

The outcome of the 28th match in the World T20 would have little bearing on either team or the tournament. A few hours after the conclusion of the game, New Zealand would head to Delhi for their semi-final, while Bangladesh, knackered and heartbroken, would return home. Still, three days following the three-ball brain fade that ended their World T20 campaign, a win on the country's independence day would be a nice consolation prize to take back to Dhaka.

But with a number of players still nursing scars from the previous game, Bangladesh stumbled to 70 all out - their lowest total in T20Is - and lost by 75 runs.

Not before the team's youngest player provided some cause for cheer, though. Mustafizur turned up with a set of toys that weren't exactly a secret anymore. New Zealand, like other teams, had seen his cutters and knew what he could do. Be that as it may, they couldn't really do much when confronted with them.

He took a wicket in each of his first three overs, and two in the last. His captain, Mashrafe Mortaza, used him in one-over bursts, in the fourth and ninth overs, and then brought him on for the 18th and 20th. Mustafizur was quick to size up the conditions, and bowled a number of slower deliveries on a dry pitch that offered little pace and variable bounce. Opener Henry Nicholls' dismissal was a good example: the offcutter tiptoeing between bat and pad off an attempted expansive drive.

Except for Grant Elliott's dismissal, which was as much a result of good bowling as of a stunning catch from Shuvagata Hom running backwards, Mustafizur didn't bring his fielders into play: he had four batsmen bowled. He removed Mitchell Santner and Nathan McCullum off successive deliveries in the last over, but Mitchell McClenaghan whacked the hat-trick ball over long-on, into the crowd.

Key moment

Mustafizur's biggest challenge was presented by Kane Williamson, who shuffled in the crease or jumped out of it to negate the cutters. In the ninth over, Williamson stepped out, allowed for enough width between his arms and the ball going away from him, and carted it over wide-long-off for four. Mustafizur responded with a brace of cutters: first up was the slower one, which Williamson, attempting to hit down the ground, missed. The next ball, Williamson gave himself room again, but this time Mustafizur bowled it faster and Williamson had to bring his bat down in a hurry. Last ball, the batsman went right across the stumps to try to paddle the ball behind square, but Mustafizur bowled a fuller, slower one that dipped on him and knocked back his off stump.

Teams know Mustafizur's secrets, but that doesn't diminish their effectiveness a whole lot © AFP

The numbers

2 The number of five-fors taken by Bangladesh bowlers in T20Is. Mustafizur's was the second, after Elias Sunny took 5 for 13 against Ireland in Belfast in 2012.

2 Where the performance ranks among the best ones in losing causes in T20Is

22 At the end of the match, Mustafizur had 22 wickets within one year of his T20I career, tied with Dirk Nannes. Only Saeed Ajmal (26 wickets) and Ajantha Mendis (25) have taken more wickets in the first 365 days of their T20I career.

What they said

"He is one of the very intelligent cricketers, although he hasn't played much cricket. He has got some variations which other people don't have but he is using them very cleverly. He has bowled to [MS] Dhoni some four-five times in the last six months but still he [has] managed to keep him down." - Bangladesh coach Chandika Hathurusingha

"I am going to send a text to Luke Wright, our Sussex captain, and say that's a very good signing" - New Zealand batsman Ross Taylor

The closest contenders

Mitchell Santner, 4 for 11 v India, World T20, Nagpur
New Zealand's spin trio, led by Santner, wiped the floor with India in their opening game of the World T20.

Dwayne Bravo, 2 for 37 v India, first T20I, Lauderhill
With just eight runs to defend in the final over, Bravo conceded six, and bagged the wicket of MS Dhoni off the last ball.

Arun Venugopal is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo. @scarletrun

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