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June 5, 2014
When a video of Taskin Ahmed bowling at the England Under-19s was uploaded on Youtube a couple of years ago, people wanted to know more about this tall fast bowler. After his second BPL game where he burst through with three wickets in four balls, curiousity peaked. This doesn't happen with most uncapped cricketers in Bangladesh. If you search Youtube for Mithun Ali, the other uncapped player who is in the Bangladesh side for the ODI series against India, you will mostly get scenes from a Bollywood movie that starred Indian actors Mithun Chakraborty and Saif Ali Khan.
The pair were informed on Thursday evening of their call-ups and reacted contrastingly. While Mithun was quite shy to describe his feelings, Taskin was excited and was well aware of the attention surrounding him.
"The feeling is obviously great," Taskin said. "This is my first call-up to the ODI team. By Allah's grace, I hope to play at the top level for ten to twelve years. My dream is to become a world-class fast bowler, and for that I will do everything within me to reach the level. For now I am excited to be in the squad against India, and hoping to do well whenever I am given a chance."
The interest among Bangladesh fans is quite easy to understand. Fast bowlers have not been produced in droves in the country, especially one who makes the wicketkeeper collect the ball near his head or one who can burst through batsmen with pace at the age of 18. Among the current lot with whom he has been bowling in Mirpur during the training camp, Taskin is the quickest, clocking over 85 mph on occasion and regularly above 80 mph.
A knee injury last year held him back for eleven months but he recovered in time to make his T20 international debut against Australia in the World T20. He has been bowling with a more comfortable action compared to during the BPL or even a few months ago. He has also understood a bit of what he would have to do the next time he steps out in front of a home crowd.
"From that game against Australia, it was easy to understand that international cricket was no place for loose deliveries. I have to bowl a tight line and length. There is always a bit of pressure with the crowd around, and that was a bit of a problem for me as I couldn't focus fully. I have learned a few things from that game, and mainly it is to bowl at the batsman not at his name.
"I was in rehab for almost a year. I felt bad during that time as everyone else was playing, but I was in the sidelines. I think the rehab process went well, which helped me play in the World T20. I am still in rehab, having to do that work after everyone leaves training."
Like Taskin, Mithun also has a single T20 international under his belt. He got out for a second-ball duck against Sri Lanka, and felt that he was too nervous for the occasion. But the 2013-14 season has been Mithun's most prolific since he made his first-class debut in 2006.
He has averaged 47.07 in nine matches compared to his career average of 33.59 but feels that despite finishing the domestic season with a century in the Bangladesh Cricket League final, he is not one of those who expected things to happen.
"I never really thought that if I scored a hundred today or tomorrow, I would get close to the national team. There are selectors who will take these decisions," Mithun said. "I was more focused on my performance. It was always a dream to play for Bangladesh. I never gave up on it because I never got to the age when I could think like that. I always believed in myself.
"I was really nervous when I made my T20 debut for Bangladesh. I feel that's why I didn't click. I have to control the pressure that I put on myself next time I go out there."
Very different characters, Taskin and Mithun will both be hopeful of making their ODI debut against India. It is a critical phase for Bangladesh with new coaches being appointed and selectors looking everywhere to find the right combination. With the 2015 World Cup coming closer every day, Bangladesh would also look to the likes of Taskin and Mithun to add their strengths to the team, one that needs a bit of in-house competition every now and then.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84Feeds: Mohammad Isam
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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