Taskin Ahmed on Blessing Muzarabani face-off: I told him to focus on bowling rather than abusing me

Bangladesh
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The pair exchanged heated words during the second over of the day’s play

Taskin Ahmed has said he decided against ceding any ground to Blessing Muzarabani during the duo’s heated mid-pitch face-off on day two in Harare, as a protest against what he saw as sledging from Zimbabwe’s players.

The incident took place in the second over of the day. Taskin, Bangladesh’s No. 10 batter, performed a jig after evading a short ball from Muzarabani. The Zimbabwe fast bowler seemed to exchange heated words with Taskin as he walked towards him in his follow-through. Before long, the verbal exchange took on an almost physical aspect as Muzarabani pushed his face into the grille of Taskin’s helmet. Some of Zimbabwe’s fielders had to intervene to separate the pair.

“Their fast bowlers were attacking me with bouncers, and trying to get me out,” Taskin said after scoring his maiden international half-century and putting on 191 with Mahmudullah for the ninth wicket. “I think I was handling them well. Some of them were abusing me as well, but when they did it for the third time, I told him to do something with the ball rather than abusing me.”
A few overs later, Mahmudullah got into an angry exchange with Victor Nyauchi, who pulled out of bowling his delivery and ran all the way to the batter. It was in reply to Mahmudullah pulling away from an earlier delivery. Zimbabwe contained their frustration for the rest of the day, although Taskin and Mahmudullah kept them on the field for two-thirds of it.

Taskin said his career-best 75 off 134 balls was the first step towards him becoming a competent lower-order contributor.

“I have always wanted to be a good tail-ender,” he said. “I practise batting besides my bowling. I want to improve my batting so that it can come in handy in difficult situations. All big teams have responsible tail-enders who support the set batsman at the other end.

“My main target was to support (Mahmudullah) Riyad bhai. He spoke to me constantly, reminding me that I should defend the ball on the stumps. I only tried to hit those in my zone. I got a few boundaries, but I was more concerned about batting for the team.”

Taskin said Mahmudullah had motivated him by telling him Bangladesh needed to put up a big total to take some pressure of their bowlers on a batting-friendly surface. “It is a good wicket except for the first session on the first day,” Taskin said. “Riyad bhai kept telling me that we should score as much as possible as the wicket is getting better [to bat on].

“It would give the bowlers something to bowl at. He told me to play with a straight bat, not try anything big. I am a bowler after all, I might want to try a big hit. But I tried to support him.”

Taskin started well with the ball, too, conceding just two runs in his first eight overs. But in his last two overs, Brendan Taylor struck him for three fours, which he said was a reminder that nothing will come easy on this pitch for the bowlers.

“We have to bowl consistently and patiently, according to the field, on this wicket,” he said. “It seems easy for the batsmen. We should attack but loose balls are quite easy to play here.”

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84