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In a country where every household seems to produce a left-arm spinner, Taskin Ahmed has arrived as a breath of fresh air with his lethal pace, movement, and raw aggression. Abhishek Mukherjee expresses his pride of witnessing the debut of the man who can be the Bangladesh spearhead in future.
There is thing about raw youth: you may admire it, you may be in awe, you may choose to ignore it, or may be disgusted by it altogether. It’s just that you cannot ignore it: especially when you’re talking a teenager who hails from a land that produces more left-arm spinners than jute, and yet tops 145 kmph on a consistent basis; more so, if you can run through an Indian line-up.
Being a cricket spectator comes with its merits and demerits. You watch for hours, days, months without anything special happening; then, suddenly, you get to witness something special — the arrival of a special talent, for example — and scream, “this is it!” Today was one of those moments.
It was not about the number of wickets he took (though 8-0-28-5 are the eighth-best figures by a bowler on ODI debut, and the best in over a decade); it’s about how he took them, and about how he bowled throughout the innings. The action was easy. The pace was ominous and consistent. The bounce had the batsmen in disarray. The ball moved around like magic. The Indian batsman hopped and ducked and slipped and did what-not to evade him. And succumbed, one by one.
In short, Taskin Ahmed is special. Very special. Outrageously special. In fact, too special for comfort.
The 19-year old bothered Cheteshwar Pujara — the man who had dominated Dale Steyn and co. in whites at their den — with his first over; Robin Uthappa got a lucky boundary, and perhaps still in the euphoric mood from the Indian Premier League (IPL) and carrying the momentum of the first ODI, tried to pull one from outside off. Unfortunately, the kid was too fast from him. The ball took the top-edge, and ballooned into the hands of Ziaur Rehman at mid-off. So much for IPL runs.
Ambati Rayudu played out two Taskin balls with caution before trying to play forward. Unfortunately, he was late in his shot, and was not sufficiently forward; the ball thudded on to the front pad. There was never any doubt (unlike the twin dismissals of Uthappa and Pujara in the previous match).
He bounced Suresh Raina, supposed to be easy meat, but Raina pulled confidently. He had Pujara hurrying into a stroke and surviving a close leg-before appeal; he had Raina slipping on the floor as he dared to shuffle; and then, he did the unthinkable: he beat Pujara — the man who averages close to 60 in Test cricket — beaten by pace; the ball hit the pad before the bat came down. That single delivery broke the backbone of the Indian lineup.
Wriddhiman Saha was beaten by one that could have, or could not have, got any batsman: the ball screamed into Saha, nearly cut him into half, and almost brushed his armpits on its way to Mushfiqur Rahim’s gloves. If any delivery can be classified as a monster, it was perhaps this.
Stuart Binny tried to hit out, and was caught in two minds; the ball thudded into the big gloves behind the stumps. With the myrmidons falling one by one, what chance did poor Amit Mishra stand? It was fast, full, and straight, and Mishra was fortunate that the ball did not get the leg to hit the stumps in its impact.
Taskin has arrived. In a few years he may be opening bowling for Bangladesh. Or he may not. But what he did today was special. He reminded us why cricket journalism is perhaps the finest profession that has ever existed: after all, that is how I got to see Taskin debut and get paid for it.
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