Bangladesh don't have world-class wristspin or mystery spin to compete with the Afghanistan spin wizards on the slow and low Dehradun surface, but they sure have a bowler who can be a handful in these conditions. Except that he is not playing this series. Mustafizur Rahman is out for four weeks with a hairline fracture in his foot, which he stuck out to try to stop a straight drive in what turned out to be his last IPL match on May 20.
Mustafizur came back, didn't inform the BCB or the physio how bad the pain was, and made it worse when he turned up for a warm-up match. Bangladesh coach Courtney Walsh says a clear message has been sent to Mustafizur that this is not on. That he owes it to the national team to give them a chance to get him back to full fitness as soon as possible.
"We didn't know about his injury," Walsh said. "That he was injured wasn't even the frustrating part. There is nothing we can do with the injury, but he is a key component in the set-up of the team. We are going to miss him a bit. It has given a chance for someone else to step up. Had we known about his injury earlier, I don't know if we could have done something to get him back on the park quicker, but the game he came to play, a warm-up game... if we would have known about the injury, for sure he wouldn't have played those games."
This is a scenario impossible to imagine with teams like Australia and South Africa and England. They are known to pull fast bowlers out of the IPL just as precaution. They manage the workloads of their players to the last detail. None of their bowlers can bowl more balls in the nets than what their medical teams prescribe. Here, Bangladesh's young talisman didn't even inform his own team of how bad his injury was.
"It's a cause for concern for me," Walsh said. "It's the second time Mustafizur has come back from the IPL with an injury. We need to look at that. We need to assess that. Unfortunately, when you play the game there is chance you will get injured. We need to make sure we keep him fit and get him stronger because he is young, talented and has everything to offer. We need to get his mind right, and get his bowling up to the standards he can be."
When asked if the BCB manages to control the workloads as closely as Cricket Australia does, he said the onus ultimately was with the individual more than the board. "There are reports passed back and forth as to have an idea of the workload," Walsh said. "Then we try to manage that when he comes back. We get an idea of the workload once he comes back. That is the reason why he got some time off when he came back because he had played quite a number of games in the IPL.
"That is something we look to monitor but at the end of the day, the player himself has got to own that responsibility because you are working for two different environments. Something that we look to manage, but we can only do so much. There is nothing we can do about injuries. Once you get injured, you have to get the injury right."
Walsh said they had learnt an important lesson, and going forward they will look to put in place a proper communication system to report injuries so they cost players as little time as possible.