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Cricket news - Mustafizur starting to run out of time

In his last 10 T20Is, Mustafizur Rahman picked only nine wickets in 33.4 overs, conceding 315 runs at an economy rate of 9.35

Bangladesh's left-arm pace bowler Mustafizur Rahman is starting to run out of time. His performance in the recently-concluded three-match T20I series against India was another occasion when he fell short of expectations, looking a shadow of the bowler who debuted in 2015 and could win games for Bangladesh single-handedly.

Known for bowling cutters, Mustafizur struggled even in the series opener in Delhi, where the sluggish wicket was perfect for his skillset. But he managed to bowl only two overs in the game. He bowled more in the next couple of matches but with poor returns. Mustafizur ended the three-match series without any wicket, giving away 92 runs from 9.4 overs with an economy rate of 9.51.

And this India tour isn't a one-off. He's been struggling for a while. In his last 10 T20Is, he's picked only nine wickets in 33.4 overs, conceding 315 runs at an economy rate of 9.35.

Bangladesh head coach Russell Domingo and captain Mahmudullah backed Mustafizur right through the series but with a T20 WC due in less than 12 months, it's imperative that Mustafizur finds back form.

"He is a quality bowler. He is a match-winner, and our most experienced bowler. We know that a big performance is just around the corner. Bowlers are under pressure in this format, particularly with a wet ball against top-quality batters on good wickets," Domingo had said ahead of the series-decider against India.

Mahmudullah echoed the same sentiment after Bangladesh's 30-run loss against India, where Mustafizur gave away 42 runs in his four overs. "I think in every cricketer's life there comes a time when he fails to perform in 3, 4 or 5 games. But I think he is a champion bowler and we expect more from him," said Mahmudullah after the defeat in Nagpur.

"He could not perform according to our expectations. But we shouldn't rethink anything about him. We should all support him in times of struggle. And the way he is practising, I think he is just one match away from his best.

"He is working really hard and he is concerned about his lack of form and is talking with the coach as well. So it's not like that if he takes a break or is dropped... [that it will solve the problem]. I personally don't feel that way because you have to support a champion bowler. He is our match-winning bowler and when he will return to his full rhythm then Bangladesh will win more matches."

According to former Indian left-arm pace bowler Irfan Pathan, Mustafizur is bowling too short and that is a major reason behind his continuous below-par performances.

"Personally, I believe that his length just needs to be fuller," Pathan analyzed. "If you look at his career, mostly he got his wickets with fuller deliveries because that is where his variation comes in handy.

"The other thing which is very, very important is that he needs to make sure that he doesn't fall away. So when his non-bowling-arm is going away from his body, especially when he is delivering the ball; he needs to work on that and make sure it doesn't fall, that it doesn't just go towards the batsman. If he can do that, he will have more control over his bowling."

Pathan added that he does not believe that Mustafizue upping his pace will solve the problem. In fact, it's not even needed.

"He is a left-arm bowler, so if he bowls at 135 km/h with the kind of variation he has got, he will be fine. I don't think every bowler needs to be able to bowl at 140 to 150 km/h to be successful. If you look at Glenn McGrath, he took over 500 international wickets. He was never a 145 km/h bowler. Wasim Akram was not 150 plus bowler, he had the variations. It's not all about pace, it's about bowling in the right areas and having control."

According to national chief selector Minhajul Abedin it is high time Mustafizur returns back to domestic cricket and plays regularly.

"I think he needs to play domestic cricket regularly," Minhajul told Cricbuzz. "Because he will have to bowl a lot of overs to make sure he is gaining back the confidence because probably he is lacking it somewhere. A bowler need to bowl a certain amount of overs in a year to have the right kind of balance to perform and you won't get that opportunity at international cricket.

"No one's place is for granted in the national team and everyone must understand that it will take very little time for others to replace someone unless he is delivering consistently."

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