Sri Lanka v Bangladesh, 1st Test, Galle March 6, 2017

Mustafizur's novelty buoys Mushfiqur


Mustafizur Rahman last played a Test in July 2015 © AFP

Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim has said that seamer Mustafizur Rahman, who is returning to Test cricket after more than a year, will be the key for his bowling attack in Galle. That almost all of Sri Lanka's batsmen have not faced him before only amplifies the threat posed by Mustafizur. Among Sri Lanka's 15-man squad, only Dinesh Chandimal has faced Mustafizur before.

Chandimal scored five runs in six balls, including an edged four, against Mustafizur during last year's Asia Cup T20 in Mirpur. Mustafizur finished with figures of 1 for 19 in his only international against Sri Lanka. Then in the practice match between Sri Lanka Cricket President's XI and the Bangladeshis, Chandimal hit form and played Mustafizur with more conviction.

This will be Mustafizur's first Test since July 2015, when he played both games against South Africa at home. He has been dogged by injuries since then, only playing some limited-overs matches in New Zealand before being dropped for the one-off Test against India in Hyderabad last month. This will also be the first time both Mustafizur and Mehedi Hasan are available to play in the same Test.

"Having them in the bowling attack is a huge advantage," Mushfiqur said. "We have Mustafizur now with Shakib and Mehedi who have done well together already. The type of bowler he is, Mustafizur will make them [Sri Lanka] work hard on this wicket. Many of them are going to play him for the first time, which we have seen is difficult for any batsman. We also have Taskin Ahmed, but we have to make sure to grab the opportunities that come our way."

Bangladesh spilled several chances in New Zealand and Hyderabad, and Mushfiqur called for improvement on the fielding front.

"Fielding is a very important part," he said. "We don't want to provide batsmen with one or two lives. We are focusing harder this time, to do better than the last two series. We are also trying to adjust to the heat, so that we are well prepared for the game."

Mushfiqur has been asked to give up the wicketkeeping gloves, and concentrating on one discipline could benefit him, but he termed it a "different feeling".

"The heat here is such that it doesn't matter if you're keeping or fielding. It is a tough job," he said. "I have said it repeatedly that while keeping I understood the wicket better, which helped me as a batsman.

"It will be a different feeling. I have to do what I am told to do for the team. I am happy, and I will try to contribute as much as possible as a top-order batsman."

Mushfiqur hoped that the batting unit, which has been guilty of throwing away starts in Bangladesh's last three Tests, will use the preparation from the last two weeks to good effect in Galle.

"You have to play big innings in Tests, whether you are in the top or middle order," Mushfiqur said. "Our batsmen are trying hard, but sometimes they haven't been able to do it. Over the last two weeks they have put in a lot of effort, and I hope it is reflected on our performance in the game."

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Kausthub1 on March 9, 2017, 8:30 GMT

    @dhutugenunu Fizz at least managed to take two wickets in each ODI and also controlled the run flow in T20s. Even in this Test match, he bowled better than others (even better than Mehedi who leaked a lot of runs). Don't jump to conclusions too soon.

  • cricfan37328733 on March 8, 2017, 8:01 GMT

    Bangladesh cannot play test. ..disappointing but it reality.hardly any one look taking wkts....would not be surprised if diruwan perera hit ton. ...even lakmal might score halfcentury. ....pathetic if u can get tailender wkts then no need to play.....shakib Al hasan just utility player. ....nor a proper batsman nor wkts taking bowler. ....He could bowl tight few overs in t20 and score 40-50....Bangladesh should play with players who are doing good in domestic. ..Some players are assured of their place in squad. ...reason for failure. ...and fitting reply by Sri Lanka to all who think they are not good. ......inning victory for sl

  • Dhutugemunu on March 6, 2017, 23:35 GMT

    Mushfiqur always buoyed by some random imaginary things before a series. Nothing new there. However Mustafizur was so effective in limited overs games when he was new to international cricket. Now he is not a mystery bowler. How many wickets he took against NZ recently? only 6. At Christchurch and at Mount Maunganui he was hammered around the park (62 in 10 overs and 30 in 4 overs respectively). Hope everyone remember the story of Ajantha Mendis. He was once unplayable (when he was new). Now he is not effective (everybody knows how to bat against him).

  • hussyy on March 6, 2017, 22:51 GMT

    I have never seen any captain in the world of cricket talks about a match ahead of the game like the way mushi does. Its soo annoying man! Like seriously just show what you and your team all about by your action and not by your worthless words and freaking predictions!! Mushi has a mouth with no filters. Talk less talk sense and show actions PLEASE

  • A.Rahman on March 6, 2017, 22:49 GMT

    Udendra: Ask SA and they did try to dispatch bad balls from the Fizz. What happened next?

  • i_amVIVA on March 6, 2017, 22:46 GMT

    is fizz any good like before surgery, has he gotten back his old form?? i heard few months ago that surgery has affected him, is that true???

  • mr.aeroboy on March 6, 2017, 19:24 GMT

    Mustafiz will bowl wicket to wicket to make batsmen playing every ball which will be tough to handle for any batter.

  • cricfan05620840 on March 6, 2017, 19:18 GMT

    Mustafiz isn't as much of a wicket taker in tests, but he creates pressure by not allowing the batsmen to score off him. This allows the other bowler more penetration something Taskin can use.

  • Htc-Android on March 6, 2017, 18:03 GMT

    Hit slow ball tricks aren't going to work in test cricket. batsman are not in a rush to hit sixes and fours against him. In test cricket you would want a fast bowler who bowls bouncers, conventional swing and reverse swing. not a guy who bowls slower balls. But taskin might be handy bowler test cricket though. but he still need to work on his accuracy though.

  • Kausthub1 on March 6, 2017, 15:54 GMT

    This TEST series is a real TEST for Mustafiz if he should prove that he is a good bowler in all three formats and also proves Fizz's ability to perform outside comfort zone (away from home). Right now it is not wise to either praise him nor criticize him overly despite being a fan of him (due to his T20 and ODIs), as he didn't get a chance until now. Let us see if he could prove it. Pity that BD could play only 7 Tests (even in those, many were ruined due to rain) since Fizz debuted, which is half the number of Tests India played in just one season!

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