Bangladeshi bowlers, especially spinners, are struggling away from home. By no means, that is a hard picture to imagine.
But Taijul Islam, one of the best spinners of Bangladesh, is working to change that. He intends to perform better in all conditions, across all formats.
Except for the mercurial Shakib Al Hasan, Bangladesh's other two primer spinners at the moment, Taijul Islam and Mehidy Hasan Miraz both have struggled away from home.
Where Shakib averages around 31 at both home and away, both Taijul and Mehidy's averages get more than doubled away from home compared to at home. Taijul has picked up 93 wickets at an average of 27 at home but away? That average jumps up to 60.04, more than double of his average at home.
But Taijul believes that it is indeed time for a change. And with that in mind, he has already changed his action and has added a new delivery to his arsenal to strengthen himself. He is still keeping the new delivery a secret but his new action has already been seen in action in the practice sessions at Mirpur.
Taijul's target though remains to perform better away and also, across all three formats.
"We have to bowl differently at home and away, because of the conditions. There are some skills regarding that and maybe we need to develop those skills. I am working with Vettori on how to perform better away from home," Taijul said.
Taijul had an incredible ODI debut in 2014 against Zimbabwe, picking up a hattrick on his very first match. Despite that, he has played only nine ODIs and had a break of almost three years between 2016 to 2019.
But Taijul, as he is known to be calm and collected, a gritty warrior, has no regrets about it. He feels that he has not performed well enough to become a regular in white-ball cricket but definitely hopes to do so.
"No, I don't regret it. Cricket is a performing art. It feels bad to my own to ask for a place despite not performing. I have tried in the matches I got the opportunity. But still, I have to perform well. Maybe I did not perform well and hence the opportunities never came," Taijul explained.
But Taijul stays hopeful as he said, "Maybe if my performance improves in the future, I will get the chance to shine. But I don't regret not playing more limited-overs cricket, I will get the chances once I perform."
But in Shakib's absence, good performances with the white cherry has already reaped some rewards for the southpaw as Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) has handed him the white-ball contract too. Taijul said that it was a very good feeling to be thought for limited-overs and he thinks it came only after good performances in the recent past.
"I played quite well against Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe. Maybe the selectors assessed those performances and picked me for white-ball cricket. It was a good feeling because playing all three formats satisfies yourself because not everybody gets that opportunity," the left-arm spinner from Natore said.
Despite being only the third Bangladeshi bowler to reach 100 wickets in Tests, after his idol Mohammad Rafique and Shakib, Taijul also has the impending pressure of other quality spinners in and around the side. Taijul though has kept his place for more than five years now and he believes that overcoming that pressure is a bigger quality to have.
"Every cricketer thinks that they have to perform, it is natural for them. During my time, many left-arm spinners have played with me. By God's grace, I am still in the team. There will be pressure but overcoming them is the bigger quality. By God's grace, I try to do that," he added.
But with great power, comes great responsibility. With Shakib not around, Taijul is the most senior spinner in the squad. And that automatically shoulders him a lot of responsibility and Taijul, accepting that the team's character is different with and without Shakib, enjoys the responsibility and the demands made from the team.
"You must enjoy responsibility. The character of the team is different with and without Shakib Bhai. It's expected because he helps me a lot, I don't have to take much pressure. But without him around, as a senior spinner, I have a bulk of responsibility on my shoulders as the team expects a lot from me. I have played for quite some time now, the team demands a lot from me," Taijul added.
At 28, with 114 wickets to his name, Taijul is already one of Bangladesh's finest spinners ever. He has already won Bangladesh a handful of matches and as he himself loves every win he has for Bangladesh, fans would hope that Taijul would only get better because as always, the sky's the limit.