The Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza did not throw the ball to Shakib Al Hasan after the end of first over. He opted for such in the last game which did not fetch expected results. It’s always ideal to make the best use of new ball with your pace bowlers and when the conditions are suited for seam and swing, using a spinner was not an appreciative move. Thus, in the fourth match against Ireland, the second over of the day was bowled by Mustafizur Rahman aka Fizz, who hinted about coming back to his old self against New Zealand.
Mustafiz’s first ball of the day was just too good for the eyes. Paul Stirling, instead of getting behind the line, pivoted on the front foot and defended the ball back to the bowler. It was a delivery which swung back into Stirling and caught him in two minds of whether to play forward or back. The second ball was another inswinger which posed a threat by swinging back further, but somehow, Stirling managed to play it on the onside.
Mustafiz ran for the third delivery. His grip was not facing towards the leg slip, but first. He dragged the ball wide in and around middle and off stump – it swung late after landing and was leaving the batsman. Stirling thought of playing it on the onside again but misread the line. The ball took his outside edge and flew towards the short third man.
Mustafiz started off with a wicket-maiden and then he went on to dismiss three more Irish batsmen. He gave the Bangladeshi bowlers the much-needed boost and they kept on fetching wickets at regular interval to dismiss the hosts for just 181. Tamim Iqbal and Soumya Sarkar finished the formalities in style with almost 20 overs to spare as Bangladesh registered their first ever win in this series.
The fascinating thing about Fizz’s bowling today was his ability to move the ball skillfully. In Bangladesh and throughout the world, he is more popular about his cutters. But one could not notice any of his deliveries to cut back in or away at Dublin today. His bowling was about; a basic action, a perfect wrist position, subtle differences in grip and variations while releasing the ball.
Then, while delivering the ball one could also notice changes in his action – a copybook style of swinging the ball. While bowling the outswing, Fizz released the ball fractionally from behind the ear, hand and body always stayed on-line with a full and complete follow through. And, when he brought the ball back in, he was releasing it in front of the head with the hand pushed over the ball. He let his wrists do as much as a curve as possible.
Moreover, today, he was seen to run in towards the wicket with a long run up and generate decent pace to surprise the batsmen.
Such things are a huge positive for Bangladesh.
When Mustafiz turned the world upside down with his cutters in the home series against India and South Africa two years ago, his bowling lacked enough speed and movement. Without pace and movement, it’s always tough to bag wickets on the slow decks of the subcontinent. But still, Fizz could set jitters in the Indian and South African batting line-up. He used to deliver his slow offcutters with a quick arm action and even he was not bowling the cutters, he changed the pace of the ball with a quick arm. Now, this ability to change the pace of the ball with a quick arm action was something unique and made Fizz one of the toughest customer in the business and baffled the batters more often.
But in the age of technology, it’s always an easy task to fathom the mastery of any batsmen and bowler. In that sense, Fizz was needed to add more variations in his armoury to establish himself and prove everyone, he is not a one-season wonder.
A shoulder injury scripted a six-month break and it also sowed the seeds of fear in the mind of many fans. They thought this injury might hamper him in the long run. Mustafiz did return in the series against New Zealand, but he was a lost soul. He gave the glimpse of his magic in the second Test at Colombo where he broke the backbone of Sri Lankan batting line-up with late swing. But still, he was not someone consistent with the ball.
Thankfully, Fizz is hinting of a great comeback through this tri-series. His bowling is not only about delivering the slower offcutters and change of pace, but it is more about skill and the art of swing. I am sure, the physio, bowling coach Courtney Walsh and head coach Chandika Hathurusingha have done a lot of hard work to deliver Bangladesh this changed Mustafiz.
In an era when swing bowling is a rarity, Mustafiz’s swing will be a great welcome for the fans all around the world.