Taijul Islam rocked with the ball at Sylhet…..
Playing at home and having pitched in with consistent showings against higher-ranked sides meant that Bangladesh were the favourites going into the Test series against Zimbabwe, a team that has been struggling to get together a compact unit after the players clashed with the Board over payment issues. Though the home side were without their premier match-winner Shakib Al Hasan, they had greater experience and it was expected that they would walk away with the series without breaking a sweat.
That cricket is a funny game is well known and often, the sport has produced results and displayed outcomes that have muddled up the minds of the critics, who have spent days analyzing the possible result of an upcoming encounter. Hence Zimbabwe’s fightback that sees them in with a real chance of grabbing a lead in the 2-match series is not only surprising, but also puts to question the mettle of the Bangla boys, who need 295 runs more to avoid an embarrassing defeat.
— Bangladesh Cricket (@BCBtigers) November 5, 2018
However, there was one player who went about his job with the utmost professionalism and sans much attention – something that Taijul Islam must have gotten accustomed to in his short 20-Test career. He had entered international cricket with a bang, picking up a hattrick in his debut game against Zimbabwe but faded away after just four ODI games. Soon, he was seen as a Test specialist in Bangladesh but with all eyes on Shakib and his aid Mehidy Hasan, the Natore-born spinner had to silently go about his task.
He has picked up 80 wickets in 20 matches since his arrival, while the famed all-rounder Shakib has scalped 74 in his 18 Tests. Not only do the above stats display the impact of the former, but it also shows that in the absence of Shakib, Taijul has the ability to lead the attack, thus continuing with the spinning strength that Bangladesh have prided themselves in over the years.
Also read: Taijul Islam’s attacking intent paid off
The 26-year-old continued with his good showing against Zimbabwe – he had taken 8 for 39 in his third Test against the same side in 2014 – by bagging 6 wickets in the first innings at Sylhet and grabbing 5 in the second to grab his first 10-wicket haul in a Test game. Though the poor batting display stole away all the limelight from his heroic efforts, it was tough to ignore Taijul’s approach and his ability to keep things simple – something that he has focused on ever since his Rajshahi Division days.
“I think Taijul has been very consistent,” Sunil Joshi, Bangladesh’s spin consultant, was quoted as saying. “I have been watching him since I have joined the Bangladesh team and he has been very successful in Test cricket. Though he plays in only one format, he has been bowling consistently in one area. Test cricket requires consistency because it’s a test of character.”
In the first innings, on a track, which did not assist the spinners enough as expected, the left-arm bowler did not give away too much room outside the off-stump and concentrated on bowling in the right areas. Instead of bowling defensive lines, he looks to draw the batsman forward with loop and flight, beating them with turn. This helped him bag Brendan Taylor’s wicket in the first innings, where the batsman prodded forward against an arm-ball as he was looking to play for the turn.
With a straight run-up that reveals very little, he often catches the batsman unawares, and his success, coupled with the rise of Shakib and Mehidy Hasan, has forced the Bangladesh Cricket Board to produce tracks that offer more turn and breaks more rapidly. For a team that has shied away from grasping onto the home advantage over the years, the success of Shakib, Mehidy and now Taijul have opened up the doors for more Bangla spinners to achieve greater heights.