Mustafizur Rahman is a shy boy who doesn’t like talking much, unless he is speaking in Bangla.
But in the ongoing Indian Premier League, the 20-year-old Bangladesh bowler, has allowed the ball to do all the talking. He has easily been the stand-out bowler so far for Sunrisers Hyderabad, with seven wickets from five games at an economy rate of 5.75. His 2 for 9 against Kings XI Punjab in the last game was quite a remarkable achievement, but he has also got the likes of Shane Watson, AB de Villiers and Andre Russell out in the tournament with his off-cutters, clever change of pace and yorkers.
During a chat with Times of India on Monday (April 25), he spoke about his IPL ambitions, the secret of the deadly off-cutter and much more. Excerpts:
Not too many people expected you to be so successful. How are you making it possible, day-in day-out, in a tournament like IPL, where bowlers get clobbered?
I think it has to do with my belief and desire to do well at the top level. I know I have to make use of the chances that come my way, wherever I am playing. Going into the IPL, I wanted to make a mark, worked hard at it, and it feels good that people are appreciating my performance.
What is the secret of that off-cutter? How have you perfected it?
I don’t exactly know what the secret is, probably it comes naturally to me. When I was growing up, one of my coaches told me to try it. I just gave it a try and it started coming out very well. Since then I have kept working on it and the results are showing.
Your captain David Warner said the other day that it’s not easy to communicate with you because you are not too fluent in English. How are you managing to deliver the goods when you don’t get to talk with your captain too much?
It’s true that I don’t understand English or Hindi too well. But at the end of the day, cricket has its own language and I know what is expected out of me. I try to keep doing the things that I know I am good at and I also make an effort to understand what the captain wants. So till now, things have worked out well.
You have got quite a few important wickets. Which one is your most favourite? Is there any batsman who gives you sleepless nights?
I have absolutely no favourites, I am happy to take every wicket that I get. And there is no batsman in the world who really bothers me. I know that if I can perform to the best of my abilities, I will find a way to stop each and every one of them.
You mean even a Virat Kohli doesn’t worry you? Or a MS Dhoni, who beat you in that famous sprint in the World T20 World Cup match in Bengaluru to show Bangladesh the door?
They are all great players, but I try to stick to my strengths. And let’s make it very clear, that Bengaluru game was out of my system the very next day. In cricket, you can’t sit and brood over things that have already happened. I don’t even know when our game against Dhoni’s team (Pune Supergiants) is, but as and when we play, I will give my best shot.
Ashish Nehra is a senior left-arm pacer who is there in your side. Would you try learning from him and do you think Hyderabad bowling will look more lethal when he comes back from injury?
It’s a learning experience to be around players of such caliber. Obviously I will look to learn as much as I can during the IPL. And of course, it will be a boost when Nehra is back. It’s still early days in the tournament, but we hope to do well.
You have been a tremendous success in T20s and ODIs. Is Test cricket your next aim and are are you looking forward to the series against India?
It’s better to take one step at a time, but yes, I would love to do well in Tests as well.
That’s the ultimate dream of any cricketer, but as far as the India series is concerned, I am not looking that far ahead. I don’t even know if I will get selected in that series, but if it happens, I will do my best.
Do you think you need to add a bit more pace to your bowling in order to be successful in Tests?
I have to keep in mind my body if I am looking to increase my pace. I think the pace at which I am bowling now is fine. I have had my share of injuries and though I know it’s part-and-parcel of the life of a cricketer, I have to try and stay fit.