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Taskin dismisses fan talk, sets sights on T20 World Cup preparation

"There's a lot of talk about Zimbabwe as an opponent but if we lose against them, there will be a lot of other talk"

Mohammad Isam
Mohammad Isam
Taskin Ahmed struck off successive deliveries in the seventh over, Bangladesh vs Zimbabwe, 1st T20I, Chattogram, May 3, 2024

Taskin Ahmed has taken six wickets at an average of 8.83 in the T20Is against Zimbabwe while going at just 4.41 per over  •  AFP via Getty Images

Bangladesh are 3-0 up and have the T20I series in their bag, but a section of their fans aren't really celebrating these results. Instead, they are dismissing them for coming against Zimbabwe, a lower-ranked side. They also have a theory that the BCB organises matches against Zimbabwe whenever the senior men's side goes through a difficult run of results.
Taskin Ahmed is aware of these notions, which swirl relentlessly in social media, but he says the players won't pay any heed to them. Instead, they will continue to focus on beating Zimbabwe in the last two T20Is in Dhaka and building up to the T20 World Cup in June.
"Our goals are World Cup-oriented but we don't control what conditions we play in or against which opposition we play," Taskin said. "We have to give our best in all conditions. If we can get into the World Cup with five or ten per cent improvement, we can then start well in that tournament. There's a lot of talk about Zimbabwe as an opponent but if we lose against them, there will be a lot of other talk.
"We get less credit for winning against smaller teams. If we lose, they will mock us. Unfortunately, we have to hear a lot of things. When we get out to play, our only goal is to give our best. We want to win the last two games. We have different individual roles, which we try to execute. Results vary but we also want to use these two matches to try out some of our new skills."
Taskin has been one of Bangladesh's most impressive performers in this series so far, taking six wickets in three games at an average of 8.83 while returning an economy rate of just 4.41. Zimbabwe's top order has particularly struggled against him, with their batters looking rushed for pace. Taskin felt his rhythm was better than it had been during the BPL in January or the Sri Lanka series in which he played the white-ball matches.
"I was quite sore in the [2023] World Cup. I had to do two-and-a-half months of rehab after which I started with the BPL this year," he said. "I struggled with my rhythm in that tournament but it improved in the Sri Lanka series. Rhythm is a factor for fast bowlers. It is improving for me. I am working hard. The team will expect me to bowl at high pace. I am bowling well, but I hope it gets better soon."
While the IPL, across the border in India, has witnessed a frenzy of six-hitting and tall totals, this series has been a lot less high-scoring, with first-innings totals of 124, 138 and 165 in the three matches so far. Taskin put it down to conditions, and suggested that it might be unrealistic to expect big scores in Dhaka as well.
"Conditions are slightly different between here and the IPL," he said. "Most of the games there are high-scoring. There are fewer high-scoring matches in Bangladesh. Even if we are playing Zimbabwe, we are giving our 100 per cent. They may be weaker than IPL teams but we have to give our best to beat them."
Bangladesh's top-order batters haven't really hit their stride, particularly with Litton Das struggling for runs in the white-ball formats this year. Towhid Hridoy and Jaker Ali had to rescue the side after they lost their first three wickets in nine overs in the third T20I.
"More than anyone, we feel most disappointed when we don't do well with bat or ball," Taskin said. "We work hard consistently to improve our batting and bowling. We know that we haven't started with the bat according to expectations. We are working on it. I hope we can do better in these two matches."
Taskin was pleased with Bangladesh's next batch of fast bowlers doing well in domestic cricket. Rejaur Rahman finished this season's Dhaka Premier League with an eight-wicket haul, while left-arm quicks Abu Hider and Ruyel Miah finished as the top two wicket-takers overall. Taskin, who played for eventual champions Abahani Limited, took 16 wickets in eight matches at 15.37.
"It is a great sign that more fast bowlers are coming into the scene in Bangladesh," Taskin said. "It is an additional motivation in domestic cricket, to see the fast bowlers in the national team to be more consistent. If they can play some franchise cricket, there will be more improvement. They have a better process. There's more seriousness in maintaining good lifestyle. It is helping fast bowlers in Bangladesh."

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84