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Taijul rises from Bangladesh shadows to get his due

Taijul Islam has always been unfazed by both success and failure AFP

It's unlikely Taijul Islam will be the toast of Bangladesh tonight. He is not the type who floods his social media pages with photos, graphics or heartfelt messages. In fact, Taijul was not even adjudged the Player of the Match during the first Test against West Indies; that honour went to Mominul Haque for his 120 in the first innings.

Nope. Taijul simply took a six-wicket haul - his seventh five-for in Tests - and ran off with the stumps as souvenir.

While the entire Bangladesh team deserves credit for the win, most of the attention is likely to head Shakib Al Hasan's way. Besides becoming the first Bangladeshi to take 200 Test wickets and the fastest to the double of 200 wickets and 3000 runs, the 64-run win was also Shakib's first Test victory in his second stint as captain.

Shakib is a charismatic presence on the field for Bangladesh. With him around, his team-mates feel secure, knowing their backs are watched. On Saturday morning, Shakib knocked West Indies completely off course at the start of their 204-run chase, removing Kieran Powell and Shai Hope just before lunch.

But even with Shakib's heroics, the first Test was all about Taijul. He got into the act with a six-wicket haul, while also complementing Shakib, Mehidy Hasan Miraz and Nayeem Hasan with tight spells from his end. Whether he gets noticed or not, Bangladesh's win in Chattogram had a lot to do with Taijul's accuracy.

Even on a pitch that started to turn from the first afternoon, a bowler still has to be precise in pitching deliveries. Other bowlers might have been tempted to get carried away, but not Taijul. It should have come as no surprise. Throughout his career, Taijul has been unfazed by both success and failure.

In a country where being a Test specialist is usually seen as a hazard rather than an advantage, Taijul could have very easily slipped through the cracks in the selectors' table, joining an unfortunate list of Javed Omar, Rajin Saleh, Enamul Haque jnr and Robiul Islam.

However, in a day and age where consistent performers in Tests are hard to come by for Bangladesh, Taijul has stood out. He has 94 wickets in 22 Tests, and is primed to become the fastest to 100 scalps for Bangladesh, beating out both Shakib (28) and Mohammad Rafique (33).

In the seven Tests during the last four years that Bangladesh played without Shakib, Taijul proved his worth by taking four five-fors as well as a 10-wicket haul.

Thankfully, Taijul's efforts, even when they have not yielded a lot of wickets, have not gone unnoticed in the Bangladesh dressing room.

"He really works hard on his bowling," Shakib said. "He got only one wicket in the first innings but we all agreed in the dressing room that he was our best bowler on the second day. A bowler sometimes doesn't get wickets despite bowling well, but we notice these small things and ensure that everyone gets the message. Taijul bowled really well. I hope he bowls the same way in the second Test, and perhaps takes two five-fors."

Shakib, however, called for a balance between his spinners. He noticed that several times during the first Test, whenever one bowler was attacking and taking wickets, the bowler at the other end also tried to follow suit, instead of containing the flow of runs as planned.

"All of us are attacking bowlers. Sometimes it is difficult for us to bowl defensively. We always opt for the attacking option. We have to learn how to string together tight overs so that someone at the other end can attack. I think we have to develop this game sense and learn to do this.

"But at the same time, it is good to have wicket-taking bowlers around all the time. Even if we use four proper spinners, we don't have to cut down on the number of batsmen. It is a plus point."

Shakib also singled out debutant Nayeem for showing courage with both bat and ball.

"Nayeem bowled really well as a debutant. There was less help for spinners yesterday and yet he bowled so well. He has a good future. He can learn quickly. I think the best part is, he is brave."

Mehidy did his part too, removing Shimron Hetmyer in both innings, as well as breaking the crucial Jomel Warrican-Sunil Ambris partnership which had started to threaten Bangladesh on the third afternoon.

Graham Gooch once famously described Richard Hadlee's New Zealand bowling attack of the 1980s as, "the World XI at one end, and Ilford Second XI at the other", a blunt but honest assessment that could very well have also applied to Bangladesh over the years.

But since Taijul and Mehidy came into the fold, Bangladesh have had a lot more attacking options, particularly in home Tests. Taijul is still unlikely to the toast of the nation, but he will be more than happy working in the background, biding his time and then pouncing on rare opportunities to play Tests.