fizz

Born September 6, 1995, Mustafizur Rahman is Bangladesh’s best  bowler currently. The youngster, ever since he got the exposure, has caught the eyes of cricket enthusiasts and critics with the unusual talent. Having made his international debut in 2015, Mustafizur or Fizz (as his teammates dearly call him), has become one essential element of the team. Famous for his off-cuters, he has left the best of batters clueless. Mustafizur has grown as one of the most successful bowlers in the limited-overs format. The player made appearances in tournaments like Indian Premier League (IPL), NatWest T20 Blast and Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) apart from the international fixtures.

Many spotted the spark and zeal in the bowler from the very first match. Mustafizur became the first bowler to bag consecutive 5-fors in his first two One-Day Internationals (ODIs). His performance has been clinical in the T20 leagues and he promptly became one of the front-line bowlers for the side.

As the bowler turns 21, here are some of his top spells so far in his short yet brilliant career.

2 wickets on international debut: Mustafizur made his international debut in a one-off Twenty20 International (T20I) that Bangladesh played against Pakistan at home. Playing along with experienced players like Shakib Al Hasan and skipper Mashrafe Mortaza, he emerged as the highest wicket-taker of the side, bagging two. He dismissed two of the most important players in the visiting side, Shahid Afridi and Mohammad Hafeez. Pakistan put up a par 141 and with fireworks from Shakib and Sabbir Rahman, Bangladesh went on to win the match.

5-for in ODI debut: Mustafizur’s next challenge was facing neighbours India at home, and he overcame it with flying colours. Being a young bowler who has hardly played much international cricket before, Mustafizur pulled off an excellent job protecting the 307 that Bangladesh had put up against India. The much-famed Indian batting line-up who had tamed them months back in the ICC World Cup 2015 were capable of chasing it down but the young Fizz came in the way. His 5-for included the better batsmen — Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina and Ravindra Jadeja, which resulted in a 79-run-win for Bangladesh.

Consecutive 5-for: When India thought of getting themselves back on track to win the next fixture, Mustafizur made sure he continued with his form and did not let India do so. The visitors were restricted at a below-the-par total of 200, with MS Dhoni being the highest run-getter for the side with his 47.

He bagged wickets of Rohit, Dhoni, Raina and Jadeja. Bangladesh cruised to another win and Mustafizur received consecutive Man of the Match awards and became the first man to bag two fifers in his first two ODIs.

Third 5-for within six months: Bangladesh were playing Zimbabwe at home when Mustafizur got his third 5-for within a span of six months. The hosts had put up a decent 276 against Zimbabwe with openers Imrul Kayes and Tamim Iqbal scoring 73 each. Mustafizur came into action and dismissed opener Chamu Chibhabha and Regis Chakabva in quick succession, later on removed Sikandar Raza. Zimbabwe were bundled for 215 and Bangladesh won by 61 runs.

Facing India in World T20: Mustafizur did not get to play much international cricket before heading into the ICC World T20 2016. Facing India in the tournament, the bowler gave the Indian batsmen a tough time. Mustafizur removed Rohit Sharma in the sixth over and Indian players kept losing wickets in regular intervals thereafter. They put up a not-so-safe score of 146. The match was one of the most exciting ones of the tournament as Bangladesh had all the chances to win it till the last ball but lost in by a run.

Mustafiz celebrates with his teammates after taking the wicket of Rohit Sharma ©AFP
Mustafiz celebrates with his teammates after taking the wicket of Rohit Sharma ©AFP

Best performance in World T20: However, the bowler followed the performance up by a brilliant performance against New Zealand. The Black Caps were one of the prospects to win the tournament and had done exceptionally well. However, the batting fell apart in front a Mustafizur-led Bangladesh bowling. The bowler removed Henry Nicholls early in the match. Skipper Kane Williamson went on to build a brief partnership with Collin Munro but departed scoring 42, getting bowled off a Mustafizur-off-cutter. He later on removed Grant Elliott and New Zealand posted a challenge of 146 runs. Bangladesh batsmen failed to follow the performance up with a good batting performance and eventually lost the match by 75 runs. In the tournament, he picked 9 wickets at 9.55 and economy rate of just over seven.

Indian Premier League 2016: Mustafizur’s brilliant performance in the international circuit helped him get picked for Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH), who eventually went on to win the league. Mustafizur finished the season with 17 wickets in hand as the fifth-highest wicket-taker of the league. Among his wickets were Shane Watson and AB de Villiers. Fizz bagged 17 wickets in the tournament at 24.76 and his economy rate was only 6.90.

Natwest T20 Blast: Mustafizur was also picked by Sussex to play in the NatWest T20 Blast. Playing against Essex, the bowler took a 4-for on his debut and his wickets included Ravi Bopara and Ryan ten Doeschate.

Here’s wishing the young Bangladesh talent a very happy birthday!

(Paulami Chakraborty, a singer, dancer, artist, and photographer, loves the madness of cricket and writes about the game. She can be followed on Twitter at @Polotwitts)