Taijul has been ready to lead spin attack for a while
When Kane Williamson, centurion in the first innings, came to bat in the second innings yesterday, the stump mic picked up Bangladesh fielders riling Taijul Islam up with 'this is your wicket.'
Taijul has been one of Bangladesh's most crucial figures in Tests for a long time, especially at home. He usually bowls the lion's share of overs during Bangladesh's bowling innings and this time he needed to play a huge role in terms of making his presence felt in absence of the other left-arm spinner, Shakib Al Hasan. His teammates' confidence on him to do just that was what the stump mic picked up.
Taijul is almost always the second fiddle in terms of attacking with spin when Shakib is in the side but without the ace all-rounder, Taijul's role was more pronounced. He had a simple plan -- to support his spin group of Mehedi Hasan Miraz and Nayeem Islam.
"To be honest, I cannot do what someone else is doing and someone else cannot do what I am doing. I always stay within my plan. Whether Shakib bhai is around or not there are other spinners with me and game by game the plan remains in a way that someone will take wickets and someone will contain the runs.
"If I was looking to contain runs, Nayeem or Miraj might have taken wickets. Whoever playing or not, the important thing is that we are playing well," Taijul said at the end of the day's play.
But Taijul has appeared in more Tests since 2021 than Shakib. Since 2021, Shakib has played in seven Tests to Taijul's 14 appearances. In the seven Tests Taijul appeared alongside Shakib, his average went up to 36.32 (from 31.58) along with his strike-rate (88 compared to career strike-rate of 63.6) while his economy rate went down to 2.47 from a career economy rate of 2.47 – a clear indication that he was doing a containing job.
Without Shakib, Taijul is a more attacking prospect. In the seven games he played alongside Shakib since 2021, he picked up 28 wickets. In the other seven Tests, he has bagged 43 wickets.
Thus, he was handed the key to attack and lead. He would bag the in-form Kane Willamson for the second time in the Sylhet Test, yet again with an arm delivery that slipped past the right-hander's defences and rapped his pads. Williamson reviewed but started walking as soon as he saw the replay.
"I have been playing for nine years and probably they had the faith that I will be able to set him (Williamson) up and get his wicket," he said.
Even when Shakib is playing, Taijul's role is crucial. With Shakib now at the latter stages of his career, there are suggestions he would opt out of Tests sooner rather than later. Taijul would then have to lead and he feels ready.
"If the coach and the captain give me priority certainly I will try to help," Taijul said.