Ruling with the ball

Ashraful Goni tells the fascinating tale of how Taskin Ahmed trusted his better judgment at a very early age to not give up the ball against his parent’s initial disapproval and emerged as one of the promising talents of Bangladesh cricket

icon01The 10-year-old who lived in Mohammadpur was allowed hardly two hours everyday by his parents to play cricket, during the little break in-between Asr and Maghrib prayers. That is about it! Still, millions of Bangladeshi cricket fans would probably like to thank heavens for that little playtime that the boy had, which ushered in an explosive Taskin Ahmed first time on the grounds of international cricket for Bangladesh on June 17, 2014!
Taskin had his ODI debut that day, against the mighty batting line-up of India and none of the world-class Indian batsmen had answers to his express swingers. He became the first ever player in Bangladesh’s cricket history to get a five wicket haul against India. The 20-year-old has been instrumental in taking Bangladesh to the quarter finals of the World Cup this year and washed out Pakistan on home soil.
Little does anyone know that the fast bowler, who made his foray into the international cricket grounds rose from the humble playground at the Zakir Hossain road in Mohammadpur.
Taskin, who goes by the nickname Tanzim in his inner circle, grabbed attention with his cricket as early as when he was 10 years old.  The talented bowler however, conceived the dream of becoming a cricketer when he was even younger. Against his father’s expectations of seeing his son grow up to become a doctor or an engineer, he started his uphill journey to become a cricketer.
In the years that followed, Taskin earned his father’s blessings for the sport he loved playing. As the days passed, ‘He wished to see me play for Bangladesh cricket team and also in the World Cup. I fulfilled both his dreams. But there’s still a long way to go,’ Taskin tells New Age Youth.
icon02Circumstantial challenges are aplenty but Taskin is among the ones who would not give up his dreams and pursuits for anything. Hence, despite the pressure of practice and occupation in the game, he has not given up on his studies. Taskin is currently an undergraduate student of English Literature at American International University – Bangladesh (AIUB). He passed his Secondary School Certificate from King Khaled Institute in 2010 and Higher Secondary Certificate from Stamford College in 2012. A younger sister and his parents make up Taskin’s family. The national team pacer still lives with his family at Zakir Hossain road in Mohammadpur in the capital, where he grew up.
‘Cricket is an expensive game. You need to buy lots of gears for cricket practice. I am thankful that my parents gave me that financial support,’ says Taskin.
Taskin started his professional training to become a cricketer when he was 12 years old. In 2007, he joined Discovery Cricket Academy in Dhanmondi and started coaching under an excellent coach who he loves to call ‘Mr Shaju’. Taskin was more of an all-rounder at that time. Ironically, he still identifies himself as more of a batsman than a bowler.
His all-round performance caught attention of national youth team coaches. Taskin played for Bangladesh Under-15 cricket team in 2009. Afterwards, he eventually made it into every national team for the consequent age levels. He played in the Under-17 cricket team in 2010 and in Under-19 cricket team in 2012. In fact Taskin became the highest wicket taker from Bangladesh in 2012 Under-19 World Cup in Australia. He bagged 11 wickets in 6 matches and grabbed attention from a worldwide audience. Taskin’s Premier League debut had come for Old-DOHS team in 2010-11 season. In 2013, the speedster put on the Chittagong Kings shirt in Bangladesh Premier League.
‘I am very grateful to Khaled Mahmud Shujon, one of my respected seniors and coach of Chittagong Kings who believed in me and gave me the chance to play in the BPL semifinals in 2013. I took four wickets and that match was a huge turning point of my carrier,’ Taskin reminisces.
Taskin however believes that one or two good performances never make a player a superstar. He asserts that everyone has to focus and practice hard on a regular basis to stay in the top flight.
Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, the spearhead of Bangladeshi bowling attack, has been an immense inspiration for Taskin. ‘Since my childhood I have been like the biggest fan of Mashrafe bhai. Getting the opportunity to play with him for Bangladesh is an unbelievable honour for me,’ says an overwhelmed Taskin.
The duo currently make up the opening pair of Bangladeshi bowling. ‘Mashrafe Bhai has an unshakable mental strength and is a great leader to have. He is not only a great cricketer but also a great person,’ says Taskin.
He also believes that it is not an easy task to enter the national team. Taskin asserts that hard work is key to success in these levels.
‘The most important thing for a cricketer is to be humble. Honesty towards your work and practice are important steps to master and lastly you also have to be strong enough to survive through criticism. One sometimes has to just endure silently and let the ball do the talking,’ says Taskin in his words to aspiring fast bowlers.
Having fulfilled his father’s dream, Taskin now strives to complete his mother’s wish. Taskin wants to give his all to become one of the best bowlers in the world.
He likes Kolkata Knight Riders and someday hopes to play for them. But for now, there is only one thing that is in his mind – the upcoming series against India next month. He says the Tigers will be ready!

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