Taskin Ahmed reckons the Bangladesh bowlers will have to show patience on what is expected to be a flat batting surface at Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium, in Chattogram- the venue for the first Test against India.

The pitch curator, Praveen Hinganikar, has left a bit of grass on all of the centre surfaces two days out from the Test, but as it was quite evident in the third ODI on Saturday, the batters should enjoy their time here. Fast bowlers can expect a long toil, but Taskin believes the only way forward would be to bowl with discipline.

Taskin has been Bangladesh’s leading fast bowler over the last two years but has had injury concerns in recent times. He missed the first two ODIs against India due to a back injury, before returning with figures of 2 for 89 from his nine overs in the third outing as Ishan Kishan took the bowlers to the sword.

The bowling average for seamers at Chattogram in Tests too is high, but Taskin believes it is up to the bowlers to make themselves “so skilful” so as to remove the type of surface out of the equation.

“It’s the same everywhere: top of off [stump],” Taskin said on the lines fast bowlers should target in Chattogram. “If we try to force the issue, it won’t work in our favour. We will leak runs. They are good players, so we have to get the new ball to swing a bit. Maybe get reverse swing with the old ball. We have to try to break their patience. We have to bowl patiently and wait for their mistakes. It won’t be right to say that we want to blow them away.

“Fast bowlers ideally want to bowl on green tops. Conditions are not in our hands. We have got slow and flat tracks in South Africa and New Zealand. We have to make ourselves so skilful that we can bowl well on all types of wickets. Great bowlers are also getting five-fors on flat tracks. We have to focus on our self-improvement rather than [look at] conditions.”

Taskin isn’t a sure starter for the first Test that gets underway on Wednesday. As he slowly works himself back to full fitness, he admits he isn’t entirely sure whether his workload build-up is up to the standard set by the team management.

“The team management is concerned about my workload build-up. I have just returned from an injury, so I am working on increasing workload build-up, fitness and bowling load.

“If I can fulfil the load before this game, they may think of playing me. If not, then I might not play this Test. I might be playing the second Test in that case. I have spoken to them about it. I am following my workload plan,” he said.

“As a pace bowling group, we are hungry for improvement. We are all in it together. Work ethic has improved. This is all we have in our hands.”

Taskin Ahmed

While their ODI outfit is flourishing, Bangladesh have struggled in the Test format, having won just a solitary game this year in eight attempts. They have been on the losing side six times with one Test ending in a draw. They are yet to beat India in a Test match, and Taskin feels Bangladesh’s first attempt will be to take the game into the final day, and then hope for a positive finish.

“Chattogram is a batting paradise in Bangladesh. It has never been easy for fast bowlers here. We are improving but we are yet to get favourable wickets. It is usually a batting track,” he said.

“Test cricket is always challenging. We have won Tests by taking it to the fifth day, so here too, we have to take the game into the fifth day.”

Bangladesh are likely to go into the first Test with two fast bowlers, a combination favoured by the team management at home. Still, Taskin, Khaled Ahmed and Ebadot Hossain have shown enough evidence that they can carry the bowling attack in most conditions. Taskin believes that Bangladesh’s fast-bowling unit has shown improvement in all three formats, with the focus being on better work ethic and desire.

“As a pace bowling group, we are hungry for improvement. We are all in it together. Work ethic has improved. This is all we have in our hands. The management is with us, so if our desire remains, we can do better,” he said.


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