Bangladesh cricket bowling sensation Mustafizur Rahman cashed in on his breakout, international debut season on 2015, joining Sunrisers Hyderabad of the 2016 Indian Premier League in Saturday's IPL auction for an impressive price tag of $208,000 — or 14 million rupees.
Getting his call-up to the national team at just 19 years old following the Bangladesh historic run in the 2015 Cricket World Cup, the left-arm cutter made an immediate impact as the Tigers scored a surprising string of upsets in One Day International series against world elite squads Pakistan, India, and South Africa.
In his first six matches, Mustafiz — as the youngster from the small Bangladesh town of Shatkhira is known to fans in the cricket-crazy country — took an astonishing 18 wickets including five in each of his first two ODI matches, leading his team to seventh in the world ODI rankings ahead of Pakistan and West Indies, and just five rankings points behind England.
"It feels good. I was hoping I would get the opportunity. Everybody was saying I may be drafted this time," Mustafizur said after learning of his IPL auction pick Saturday. "I have nothing to say about the price. I never thought about how much I could get. I just wanted to play – that would be a big experience. I'm just happy to get the opportunity."
The six-figure price tag must have made an impression, however, in Bangladesh where median per capita income is less than $700 per year. Mustafizur was so in demand that he was the object of a furious bidding war between Sunrisers and Royal Challengers Bangalore — taking 19 bids before the Hyderabad franchise won out.
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Here are the newest members of the #OrangeArmy. We're stronger than before & can't wait for the season to begin! pic.twitter.com/IHus4Pi14WIn November, Mustafizur played his first franchise T20 cricket, joining the Dhaka Dynamites of the Bangladesh Premier League, putting in another solid performance with 14 wickets in 10 matches, good enough for 10th in the league, and an economy rate of 5.70.
— SunRisers Hyderabad (@SunRisers) February 6, 2016
Watch all 18 of the wickets claimed by Mustafizur Rahman in his first six ODI matches in the video below.
His selection by Sunrisers Hyderabad means that Mustafizur, who will not turn 21 until September 6, will make his debut on perhaps the world's most-watched and glitziest cricket stage — the IPL, which will play its ninth season starting on April 9. The young bowler becomes only the second Bangladesh player on an IPL roster for 2016, joining veteran national team star Shakib Al Hasan, who remains under contract to Kolkata Knight Riders.
Only a few Bangladesh players have appeared in the eight previous seasons of the IPL. In addition to Shakib, Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, Tamim Iqbal, Mohammad Ashraful, and Abdur Razzak have all played in the Indian Premier League, though none put in more than a single season.
Tamim was entered into the 2016 IPL auction, as was Bangladesh test captain Mushfiqur Rahim, but neither were sold to one of the eight IPL franchises.
The acquisitions of Mustafizur as well as India all-rounder Yuvraj Singh and left-arm bowler Ashish Nehra should provide a boost to Sunrisers who struggled in the 2015 IPL, finishing with a 7-7 record, in sixth place and out of the playoffs.
The Bangladesh star joins a squad that also includes one of the top left-arm pacers in the world in New Zealand's Trent Boult, as well as England limited-overs captain Eoin Morgan, Australia vice-captain David Warner, and India opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan.
But the question of the Bangladesh star's health remains. Mustafizur was bought for $50,000 by Lahore Qalanders of the current, inaugural Pakistan Super League T20 tournament, but was forced to sit out the competition with a sore shoulder.
Before the 2016 IPL opens on April 9, Mustafizur Rahman will be carrying the hopes of his country on that shoulder in both the Asia Cup and T20 World Cup, which come back to back in late February and early March. If Bangladesh make it to the final of the T20 World Cup, Mustafizur would be bowling as late as April 3, less than a week before the 2016 IPL gets underway.
[Featured Photo By A.M. Abad / Associated Press]