Mustafizur Rahman: I used to train in the fields back home

Bangladesh & SRH pacer Mustafizur Rahman speaks to mid-day about his struggles, the tense World T20 tie against India and how he’ll spend his IPL earnings

Sunrisers Hyderabad had a forgettable start to their Indian Premier League-9 campaign after Royal Challengers Bangalore slammed 227-4 at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium on Tuesday. RCB's Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers may have toyed with the bowlers at will, but one SRH bowler still managed to command respect from the lot — Mustafizur Rahman.

Bangladesh’s Mustafizur Rahman celebrates the dismissal of  Sri Lanka’s Thisara Perera during the Asia Cup T20 match at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium at Mirpur in February. PIC/AFP
Bangladesh's Mustafizur Rahman celebrates the dismissal of Sri Lanka's Thisara Perera during the Asia Cup T20 match at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium at Mirpur in February. PIC/AFP

The Bangladeshi left-arm seamer, who burst onto the international cricket scene with two five-wicket hauls against India in back-to-back ODIs earlier this year, lived up to the high expectations in his IPL debut conceding only 2-26 at an economy rate of 6.50 — to be the standout bowler for the SRH.

Interestingly, Bangalore was also the ground where a few weeks ago, Rahman was outsmarted by India skipper MS Dhoni, who ran out hte Bangladeshi cricketer while he was trying to take that one run which would have seen Bangladesh tie the World T20 match that would have kept them afloat in the tournament.

In an interview with mid-day, Rahman spoke about his struggles in the early days, honing his skills, the tense World T20 match and his plans for his IPL earnings.

On your humble beginning...
I will not say that I had the worst of days as a child, but then it is certain that there is no shortcut to success. I have had my share of ups and downs in life, but my family always stood by me like a pillar. I am what I am today because of their blessings, support and faith that they had in me. When my father saw me play, he saw what I had in me. He knew I was different from those in my age group. As a family, they never pressurised me to pursue academics. My teammates at SRH know I am not very comfortable with languages, other than Bengali, so they are always around watching my back. In fact, I am picking up a lot of words from other languages during this stint with the Sunrisers Hyderabad.

On the initial struggles...
There were never problems which could stop me from playing. But yes, the facilities and infrastructure that we had back home in those days weren't as great as compared to what it is here in India. I have seen it grow and evolve in the last 5-7 years and I am grateful that the Bangladesh Cricket Board and the government are doing a lot for cricket. When I was growing up, there was a shortage of training academies and there was also the issue of affordability. I am not a product of any academy. I started playing various district-level tournaments to keep my game up. I used to train in the fields and run in the hills to keep fit.

On his back-to-back five-wicket hauls in his first two ODIs...
It was a proud moment, but I do not believe in thinking about the past. The two hauls were definitely instrumental in getting me a place in the team, but what really helps in earning respect of teammates and management is consistent performance. Even as a bowling unit here at SRH, we know the strengths and weaknesses of each other. As a bowling unit, we are working together and are constantly helping each other improve.

On his first prize money...
It was a T20 match and after I won the prize money, we organised a small get-together for my family and friends at home. I am looking forward to getting back home after the IPL. I want to buy myself a new motorbike and a car for the family.

On honing his skills, especially the cutters...
There is no particular person who taught me about it. It is a result of mentoring by many notable coaches who have trained me right from my younger days in domestic, second-division leagues and now in the national team. Even when I reached here at the Sunrisers camp earlier this month, practicing with the likes of Trent Boult, Ashish Nehra, etc. has been a great learning. All these guys are very open to sharing their experiences and are willing to help me as a bowler. I am surely taking back a lot of things from my first IPL season here.

On his wrist position which is most talked about...
It comes naturally to me. Obviously, there were people who advised to make those little tweaks to the wrist position. Most coaches have always been happy with the way the ball has come out from my hand.

On the final over vs India in the World T20...
There was a lot of clutter, but we had to focus on what we had to do. The atmosphere in the stadium was so tense, it is not easy to keep your cool in such a situation. But then, every game has its own set of pressures and the stakes are particularly high in a match as important as the one you are talking about. So, we were in a tough situation at that time.

On expecting Dhoni to be faster than him while taking the final run...
I don't know. It's difficult to say that.

On the mood in the Bangladesh camp after the loss...
Well, everybody loves to win, especially at such crucial fixtures. To lose after having come so far, does feel a bit of a let down. But the dressing room was in a positive frame of mind after the game. As a group, we have stayed together long enough to feel positive about each other. We know we can do better than this, we have promised ourselves to come back stronger and better to deliver that final punch.

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