Taskin begins where Mashrafe fell
Observer Online Desk
With paceman Taskin Ahmed set for his Test debut, Bangladesh will look to use the youngster with caution in the first Test against New Zealand.
Bangladesh limited-overs skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza affectionately calls the 21-year-old Taskin fast bowler ‘hero’ while Taskin himself looks up to his captain as an idol for his bowling.
They share a close bond both on and off the field.
Now Taskin’s Test debut brings him to the ground where Mashrafe had suffered the first hit of his injury-plagued career -- Wellignton’s Basin Reserve.
Memorials of Tests held there are preserved in different forms around the ground.
A plaque holding the scorecard for 2001 Boxing Day Test between Bangladesh and New Zealand is also sealed to the wall on the top of the stairs near the entrance of the main building.
Mashrafe turned heads with his pace before that on his Test debut at home. Later he took four wickets in the first Test in Hamilton against New Zealand.
But it was there that Mashrafe slipped into injury. On a rain-curtailed day Bangladesh bowled 68 overs; 23 of those were bowled just by Mashrafe.
His 18-year-old body gave way and pain took over, yet he was kept in the attack from one end. In the next game, injury hit him after he had bowled 16 overs -- the first of many that plagued his career.
While Taskin’s pace and aggression bring new excitement for Bangladesh’s prospects in Tests, a question mark still hangs over his fitness for the longest form of the game.
He overcame an injury before his international career had begun. The right-arm fast bowler played only 10 first-class matches with the last one in 2013.
About three months ago, Coach Chandika Hathurusingha had dismissed the possibility of using Taskin in Tests. But now the youngster is set to make his first appearance in the illustrious format on Thursday.
Bangladesh Test captain Mushfiqur Rahim, however, believes now is the time for Taskin to get into Test cricket.
“To get Taskin [in Test] is not only exciting for me as a captain, but it is also important for Bangladesh cricket. Playing in all three formats with a bowler like him is a big plus for any team,” Mushfiqur, who himself returns to the team after recovering from an injury, said on Wednesday.
“But we should not expect too much in the beginning because he hasn’t played too many games in longer formats. The way he bowls in limited-overs, doing that for a longer time will do for him.
“I think it the best time for him to begin playing Tests.”
Former Bangladesh captain Khaled Mashud was blamed by many for Mashrafe’s fate. Mushfiqur, however, assured that he will not repeat the same mistake.
“He has gathered some experience in ODIs and T20s, it’ll be handy. And as a captain I will definitely try to make good use of him. I know it is important to manage him.
Unlike Taskin, Mashrafe began his career with Tests. Despite his ability to produce great pace, Mashrafe’s physique was quite fragile then.
But Taskin has been in the international scene for about two and a half years. Three years older than what Mashrafe was at that stage, Taskin also went through intensive training to build his muscles to keep himself free from injury
So Bangladesh prepare for their first Test of the year banking on a young fast bowler eager to step into the shoes of an inspiring skipper.