Mustafizur returns to Bangladesh to sort visa for T20 World Cup

Mustafizur Rahman is a doubtful starter for Chennai Super Kings’ next IPL game against Sunrisers Hyderabad in Hyderabad on Friday. It is understood that the left-arm seamer has returned to Bangladesh to sort out his visa, along with the rest of the travelling contingent, for the upcoming T20 World Cup, which will be hosted by the West Indies and the USA.

The T20 World Cup will kick off on June 1, less than a week after the IPL final on May 26 in Chennai.

Mustafizur had provided a potent point of difference to CSK’s attack with his whippy cutters and extra pace, claiming a chart-topping seven wickets in three games at an average of 15.14 and economy rate of 8.83. Four of those seven wickets came in a space of ten balls on his CSK debut, against Royal Challengers Bengaluru, in the season opener on March 22 at Chepauk. He is the only Bangladesh player to have attracted a bid in the IPL 2024 auction.

In the potential absence of Mustafizur, CSK could bring back Sri Lanka mystery spinner Maheesh Theekshana against Sunrisers. England’s offspin-bowling allrounder Moeen Ali is the other overseas option for CSK. This might result in CSK breaking up a strong pairing between Mustafizur and Matheesha Pathirana, who also operates at the death in T20 cricket.

“Having options all the way through your line-up is very important,” CSK bowling consultant Eric Simons, said on the eve of their game against Delhi Capitals in Visakhapatnam. “One of the things is having a squad that gives you balance. You can make those sort of adjustments. If you can’t make those adjustments, then you can’t utilise the assets that you’ve got.

“But having the batting strength we have, having the allrounders in the top order, that makes a big difference to our balance and what we can achieve. And the fact that they’re so different…having a left-armer is important, some of the balls are kind of slow, but what he [Mustafizur] does, and then the uniqueness of Matheesha as well, that’s a massive asset. No one likes to face him – our batsmen don’t like to face him – so I’m sure the opposition doesn’t either.”

If CSK want to replace Mustafizur with a local option, then a fit-again Mukesh Choudhary could get a game. The Maharashtra left-arm seamer, though, has not played a competitive match since December 2022 because of multiple injuries. At the end of IPL 2022, he had suffered a rib fracture and then a lower-back injury.

“Injury is always tough, like coming back from an injury is always going to be very difficult to get back into the team,” Choudhary told reporters in Chennai earlier this season. “This year we have eight fast bowlers. So, it’s difficult to play in the team. But I’m trying my best and I’m fit now and bowling really well.

“I’m bowling more pace than when I was in 2022, so my pace has increased because I have worked a lot on my fitness level in the last eight months. I’m working really hard each and every day, so definitely my pace has increased and I got the swing and everything – like more control and more experience now.”

CSK are currently third on the points table, with two wins in three games, with both victories coming at their home base Chepauk.

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