Taijul Islam, the Bangladesh left-arm spinner, has ensured that his team hasn't felt the absence of Shakib Al Hasan's bowling in the ongoing Test series against Zimbabwe.
In the first Test in Sylhet, despite the wicket not assisting the slower bowlers much, he bowled close to 70 overs across two innings to finish with 11 wickets from the game. Extending his purple patch into the Dhaka Test, the 26-year-old left-armer, on Tuesday (November 13), bagged his third successive five-wicket haul as Bangladesh's dominance in the game continued.
Despite a fighting century from Brendan Taylor and a career-best 80 from Peter Moor, Taijul kept pegging away as he bowled close to 40 per cent of the overs bowled by Bangladesh. His persistence ensured a rich reward for Bangladesh as Zimbabwe were bowled out for 304 which gave the hosts a hefty 218-run lead.
Acknowledging that the extended spells given to him were due to the unavailability of Shakib's services, Taijul said he enjoyed the extra responsibility. "Due to the absence of Shakib bhai I'm getting more chances to bowl. If he was in the team, there would not be the same type of additional responsibility on me. But I am really enjoying it," Taijul told reporters at the end of Day 3.
Taking up such a responsibility also meant hard work for the spinner, who had to excel in the battle of patience in order to get the better of the Zimbabwe batsmen. While his first four wickets came by the time he had completed 21 overs but the sixth-wicket defiance of Taylor and Moor meant that Taijul had to wait for close to 20 more overs for his fifth wicket, which also happened to be the final wicket of Zimbabwe's innings.
"It may have taken a long time. They made a good partnership and it is very evident in cricket. But I didn't lose my hope. It's really a matter of joy for every cricketer when he delivers good performance. But the team comes first. Our team is now in a good position," said Taijul after completing a hat-trick of five-wicket hauls, which made him only the third Bangladesh bowler to achieve the feat, after Enamul Haque Jnr and Shakib.
Another Bangladesh record is up for grabs for Taijul. Should he pick up at least four wickets in the second innings, he'll surpass Mehidy Hasan's record of 19 wickets in a two-Test series and Taijul is confident of achieving that, stressing that discipline would be key.
"Yesterday, we were getting sharp turn but today there was no sharp turn. The sharp turn you get when it lands on cracks wasn't there today. The wicket is such that if we can stick to our disciplines and bowl in good areas, then it is possible. Nothing is impossible, so I am keeping my hopes up," Taijul concluded.