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NZ v BAN, 1st Test
Taskin eager to make Test debut

Sport Desk |
Inserted: 10:04, Wednesday 11 January 2017

Taskin eager to make Test debut - Sport

Dhaka: Another away Test series brings another fresh pace-bowling group in the Bangladesh line-up. Taskin Ahmed, 21, is likely to make his Test debut and lead an attack that, for the past eight years, has been the least-experienced department in the team.

As at Wellington's Basin Reserve where Taskin, Rubel Hossain, Subashis Roy and Kamrul Islam Rabbi gleefully bowled on a green surface next to the first Test pitch, they have regularly encountered friendly conditions in West Indies, Zimbabwe, England and on the previous tour of New Zealand. But apart from Robiul Islam in Zimbabwe in 2013, none could match their skills to the conditions on offer.

Rubel has played the most during this period but never been penetrative enough, while Kamrul - who made his debut in the home series against England last year - and the uncapped Subashis have never played a Test abroad.

The trend has been to pick rookies, who don't get many opportunities in home Tests but offer promise in a season or two of first-class cricket. Once someone does well in challenging conditions at home, they are quickly brought up to the highest level and given the responsibility to use their skills in helpful conditions overseas.

After spending much of Tuesday bowling on the centre pitches rather than the nets, Taskin could not help but smile when asked about his excitement at bowling on such a pitch on his Test debut.

"The bowlers are very happy seeing the wicket," Taskin said. "It is a rather green and hard surface. I am gearing up to bowl there. We have some good fast bowlers, and we have shown in the recent past that we can bowl well. If we can bowl to our potential, it will be a good game."

While Taskin's excitement is reasonable, his inexperience in the longer format is a major concern, especially for someone who has broken down twice in the last three years. Only a few months ago, in October, Bangladesh's coach, Chandika Hathurusingha , warned the selectors not to pick him in Tests.

After chief selector Minhajul Abedin said that Taskin would be fast-tracked into the Test team in England, Hathurusingha responded: "Has he played any four-day cricket? So you think people can do magic straight away? No. They are humans. If you haven't played four-day cricket in your entire life, standing four days on the field and bowling 15 overs is entirely new for him. I don't want to destroy somebody's career."

Khaled Mahmud, Bangladesh's manager at the time and since inducted into the selection committee after it was revamped last year, had also backed Minhajul's strategy. While Taskin's pace has been more than useful for Bangladesh since his international debut in 2014, he played the last of his 10 first-class matches in 2013.

But Taskin was not focusing on his lack of bowling volume, which he believes can be covered by the work he does in the nets, while preparing himself to play in the longer format.

"I have had to work hard to come to the Test side," he said. "The support staff and coaches at the BCB really helped me get to this stage. I trained in a specific programme, which included building my bowling workload in the last 18-24 months. I am in the Test squad because I have become fitter, and I don't want to stop after just one game. I want to make a regular place in the team.

"I am not too worried about bowling volume. I don't think my lack of first-class matches will be a factor. I am only thinking of taking care of myself off the field, so that I can give my all on it. I have bowled 12-15 overs in the nets on many days, with the new and old ball. I am learning how to swing the red ball. I believe that I will become a better Test player with every game I play."

As a regular in shorter formats and given Rubel's poor numbers despite being the most experienced pace bowler - he averages 75.90 and his last Test came in 2015 - Taskin would automatically be elevated as the leader of the bowling attack if he does play in Wellington. That too on his Test debut, and his first long-form game in nearly four years.



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