DHAKA, Bangladesh _ South Africa will find out in its opening tour match on Sunday what all the fuss is about Bangladesh sensation Mustafizur Rahman.
Mustafizer, the 19-year-old left-arm pacer, exploited his unknown ability and offcutter to take a record-tying 13 India wickets in the recent three-match one-day international series won by Bangladesh.
He made his international debut last month in the series, and was picked on Wednesday for the two Twenty20s which launch South Africa’s tour, including three ODIs and two tests.
“I have had a look at him (Mustafizur) while watching the games against India,” South Africa T20 captain Faf du Plessis said on the team’s arrival on Wednesday. “We haven’t had a closer look at him though. But I did see that he did really well. We can learn from the way India didn’t play too well against him. We can make changes.”
Mustafizer’s rise in a Bangladesh battery changing its focus from spin to pace, has emboldened the side to believe it can beat South Africa in a series for the first time.
Bangladesh has beaten the Proteas only once – in the 2007 Cricket World Cup – across all formats.
But the defeat to India in the third and last ODI marked Bangladesh’s first loss in 10 home matches. There were drawn test series with Pakistan and India, and victories over the same opponents in ODI series. And they came following a first quarterfinal appearance in the Cricket World Cup.
South Africa will still start the tour as favourites as it brings a good record, not only against Bangladesh, but on the subcontinent.
“We won against Sri Lanka. We’ve won a series against India recently,” South Africa coach Russell Domingo said.
“The subcontinent seems to bring the best out of South Africa. The guys connect really well as a team. Our team culture is very strong. We enjoy coming to the subcontinent.”
Du Plessis said they expect a tough series thanks to Bangladesh’s fast bowlers, who have helped to erase the team’s tag as an easy-beat on the international stage.
“It’s incredible that Bangladesh is playing good cricket. It’s good for world cricket,” Du Plessis said.
“That (four-pacer strategy) is a surprising factor. When you play against subcontinent teams, you expect spinners turning up, and I suppose India would have thought that as well. That was the surprise of the series.”
Bangladesh: Mashrafe Bin Mortaza (captain), Tamim Iqbal, Litton Das, Rony Talukdar, Soumya Sarkar, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim, Sabbir Rahman, Nasir Hossain, Arafat Sunny, Jubair Hossain, Sohag Gazi, Rubel Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman