Bangladesh news December 2, 2015

'Happy to be among the big players' - Mustafizur

Mashrafe Mortaza on Mustafizur Rahman: A young cricketer to reach such heights is a matter of pride for all Bangladeshis © Associated Press

Ahead of Dhaka Dynamites' match against Comilla Victorians on Wednesday, Mustafizur Rahman was told by one of the team's officials that he had become the first Bangladeshi to make it to the ICC ODI team of the year. Mustafizur liked what he heard and accepted his team-mates' praise, but there wasn't much time to react considering he a game to prepare for. Besides, it is not as if he tends to react to anything in a big way.

"I was on the field when everyone started to congratulate me," Mustafizur said. "I felt really good after hearing the news, because I am the first from my country. I am obviously very happy, bound to be happy that I am among the big players in the world."

After several one-liners and some single-word answers, Mustafizur was asked if he really doesn't have much to say or chooses to remain reserved. The 20-year old said it was the former, but he means well and he looked genuinely happy and proud of what he had done.

Mustafizur introduced himself to ODI cricket with a five-for and a six-for against India in June. Between September 18, 2014 to September 13, 2015 (the qualification period), he had played only six ODIs, taking 18 wickets at an average of 12.61 and a strike rate of 17.7. The other bowlers in the ICC XI had a lot more matches under their belt - Mitchell Starc and Imran Tahir had played 22 matches each, Trent Boult's tally stood at 19 and Mohammad Shami's was 14. Mustafizur said he was humbled to be in such good company.

Mashrafe Mortaza, the Bangladesh captain, had first seen Mustafizur in the nets last year and knew there were big things in store.

"His achievements make us proud," Mashrafe said. "I hope he will hold on to his successes. He will be a regular Test player too. A young cricketer to reach such heights is a matter of pride for all Bangladeshis. We never thought he would achieve so much in such a short period of time. Not just making it in the ICC ODI team of the year, he has completely changed the balance of the Bangladesh team.

"I would also hope that all of these things don't put him under pressure. He will have bad days, but people shouldn't put pressure on him. We have to support him. If he can serve the Bangladesh team for another 10-15 years, he will reach an unprecedented height."

Mustafizur speaks very little in front of an audience, but he is free and frank in front of friends, team-mates and the same journalists when there are no cameras around. As it happens with people who are soft-spoken, it sometimes takes those few words to sum up what they are all about.

When asked if he felt excited seeing the congratulatory message on the big screen at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium, Mustafizur became serious and said, "The achievement is different, and the match is different." He couldn't have put it any better.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84

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