IPL 2024: Mustafizur Rehman, the unlikely hero who set up CSK’s winning start

Mustafizur becomes only the second Bangladesh bowler to claim 50 wickets in the league

Bangladesh bowler (left) being congratulated by his CSK teammates after claiming one of his four wickets in Chennai on Friday (photo: BCCI)
Bangladesh bowler (left) being congratulated by his CSK teammates after claiming one of his four wickets in Chennai on Friday (photo: BCCI)

Gautam Bhattacharyya

It was back in 2016 that Mustafizur Rehman, the sinewy Bangladesh seamer, made an impressive IPL debut with Sunrisers Hyderabad. The cricketing intelligence of ‘Fizz,’ as he is known as, has been widely acknowledged as he made up for his lack of pace with his variations of pace and use of cutters.

If his battle with injuries and a lack of form had relegated him to a bit of a side player in a number of other franchises like Delhi Capitals or Rajasthan Royals, the left-armer showed he had lost none of his guile when he set up a convincing win for his newest franchise – Chennai Super Kings on the opening night of IPL 2024 on Friday, 22 March. Fizz’s 4/29, his career best IPL haul, was the second-best bowling figures on debut for a CSK player as he went on to become the second Bangladesh bowler after allrounder Shakib Al Hasan to cross 50 wickets in the league.

It was a calculated gamble on the part of the CSK management to invest Rs 2 crores, his base price, on Mustafizur, whose reputation of being injury-prone did not quite help him build on his earlier exploits. Drafted more as a cover for the Sri Lankan slinger Matheesha Pathirana, the 29-year-old summoned all his experience on a good batting wicket to get rid of the Who’s Who of Royal Challengers Bengaluru on Friday – captain Faf du Plessis, Rajat Patidar, Virat Kohli and Cameron Green.

At one stage, Mustafizur – who was introduced midway in the innings by new skipper Ruturaj Gaikwad – had a jaw-dropping analysis of 2-0-7-4. Even though he took a bit of pasting at the hands of Dinesh Karthik and Anuj Rawat later, Fizz’s figures were only next to spinner Shadab Jakati’s 4/24 on debut under Mahendra Singh Dhoni way back in Johannesburg in 2009.

A self-effacing character, the Bangladesh bowler is now only three wickets shy of the 300-mark in T20 format from 241 games, including six four-wicket hauls. The way Ruturaj used Fizz for staggered spells impressed the legendary Sunil Gavaskar.

‘’What was impressive was his (Ruturaj’s) bowling changes. The way he kept on changing Mustafizur; the way he used Mustafizur was absolutely terrific,’’ remarked Gavaskar as a TV pundit.

 Meanwhile, RCB exposed their traditional failure in the bowling department as their new ball bowlers – including the experienced Mohammed Siraj - failed to pose any kind of question for the Chennai batters. It’s just the beginning of the season and Faf’s men need to huddle at the drawing board for a solution to the problem!  

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