Mustafizur Rahman’s form has been a thorn in Bangladesh’s neck over the last two months but he hopes to more consistent from now on.
The fact he received his last two man of the match awards at this same Village ground at Dublin on the back of four wicket haul against Ireland and West Indies respectively with a gap of two years only raised doubts on whether he had lost his magic.
When Bangladesh earned a convincing win against West Indies in their opening game of the tri-nation the only spot of bother looked to be performance of Mustafizur as he had given away 82 runs in his 10 overs and more so because he had given 93 runs in his previous game.
A cricketer who stormed into the international scene with so much promise looked to losing his edge despite his noteworthy performances on consistent basis as he failed to earn the entire spotlight on him by winning the game single handedly on regular basis like the way he did on his debut against India.
Mustafizur, debuted in 2015 in a T20I against Pakistan, managed to grab the spotlight on his ODI debut against India with his five-wicket haul and followed that with another five-for against the Asian neighbours.
He helped Bangladesh seal the ODI series against India for the first time and has since been considered an integral part of their bowling unit.
Though his two man of the match award came in the space of two years but still he remained the most successful bowler for Bangladesh with 41 wickets from 28 matches.
“I just wish it does not take so long to receive my next [ man of the match] award,’’ Mustafizur told reporters.
‘’I am happy that I received the man of the match. I was confident after picking the first wicket and now I am accustomed to bowl in the slog overs after bowling in the death overs for so long,’’ he said.
‘’Your confidence will rise if you do well. It is all right that I could not perform in the opening game [against West Indies] but there is World Cup in the coming days and all I am looking forward to is to perform there on consistent basis,’’ he said.
According to Mustafizur the change of weather played a huge part on his bowling as there was sunshine during the match time, the tourists are now getting adapted to the condition better.
Since their arrival the cold weather in Ireland remained a major obstacle for Bangladesh as they looked uncomfortable in the change of temperature, more so after arriving from a hot and humid country.
''In our country it is hot while here it is cold. I really struggle in cold. We came here from playing at 32 to 33 degree while here we are playing at six or seven degree so naturally it becomes difficult. Now it is getting warmer,’’ he said.
According to Mustafizur oppositions are better prepared against him unlike the past and it is making his job more difficult in the present context as he is a firm believer that his go-to deliveries - the slower balls and the cutters - will be his best friends come the World Cup in England in May later this year. The left-armer rose to prominence with his trademark fast off-cutters, troubling the best batsmen in the world, and quickly gained a reputation as one of the best white-ball bowlers.
''When a new bowler arrives lot of people don’t know much about him. Now they [opposition] know a lot about my bowling like I do this and that,’’ said Mustafizur.
''Earlier most of the time there were catches when I used to bowl. Now that happens when they charge me. Earlier I used to pick wickets even when the batsmen did not try to hit me [but now that is not the case anymore],’’ he said.
Mustafizur said after sustaining injury most of the games he played were played at abroad and that also took a toll on him as he finds it difficult to keep the batsmen guessing due the wicket does not grip unlike the way it does at home.
Mustafizur has had to endure a number of injuries in his career so far. The start of the ordeal was in England in early 2016 where he picked up a shoulder strain playing in the T20 Blast.
Before the shoulder strain that required him to go under the knife, Mustafizur picked up five-wicket hauls on three occasions in his opening nine games at his own back yard, when after the shoulder operation he is yet to pick up another five-fer despite picking up four wickets on three occasions.
''Initially I used to play most of the matches at home but after my injury most of the time I played abroad,’’ said Mustafizur.
''If I was playing at home then probably you can see the previous Mustafiz most of the time as the ball grips and changes direction in those wickets,’’ he concluded.
Mustafiz is one of the biggest bets of Bangladesh for the upcoming World Cup. If he can show his magic on the world stage like he did in the last Asia Cup, Bangladesh can hope for a successful world cup campaign.