Soumya Sarkar
Soumya Sarkar scored 88 runs to help Bangladesh defeat South Africa.Reuters

Bangladesh put up an impressive performance against South Africa to level the three-match ODI series 1-1, when they defeated the Proteas by seven wickets in the second ODI played at Dhaka on Sunday (12 July).

Following a lacklustre performance in the first ODI resulting in a loss, Bangladesh had to win the second ODI to take the series to a decider.

Bangladesh were brilliant in all facets of the game.

Bowling first, they dismissed South Africa for 162 runs. Mustafizur Rahman and Nasir Hossain were outstanding, taking three wickets each, while Rubel Hossain dismissed two South African batsmen.

By taking wickets at regular intervals, the Bangladeshi bowlers did not allow the South African batsmen to string a decent partnership.  

Faf du Plessis was the highest scorer for South Africa with 41 runs against his name. Due to du Plessis' innings and Farhaan Behardien's 36 runs, South Africa put up a total of 162 runs, their lowest against Bangladesh.

But the manner in which the Bangladeshi team chased down the target reminded people of the rapid strides made by Bangladesh in international cricket.

Soumya Sarkar took the attack to the South African bowlers with a strokeful 88 runs, which included 13 fours and one six.

Even Tamim Iqbal's early dismissal did not stop Sarkar to play an aggressive game. Iqbal was back to the pavilion in the second over of the match.

Sarkar was ready for whatever was bowled at him – slow, fast, wide, short, as he was keen to take on Proteas' bowlers.

"I heard from somewhere that they will stop me by bowling bouncers," ESPN Cricinfo quoted Soumya Sarkar as saying.

"I wanted to play at them, even if I got out. I wanted to get out of that mindset. I planned that no matter how fast they bowl and how much they try to bounce me, I just wanted to take them on."

Sarkar was impressive in the series against Pakistan as well, when he scored a brilliant 127.

His performance against India was not up to the mark as he failed to convert his good starts, but his unbeaten knock of 88 against South Africa should rank as one of the best, for, the South African bowlers had put him to test.  

Comparing his 127 runs with the 88-run knock, he felt it was much tougher against the Proteas.

"Against South Africa, I have had to make a bad ball as they weren't giving away. Pakistan were giving at least one bad ball per over. This was a tougher knock. We were chasing a bigger total against Pakistan so we could plan accordingly. Small targets are always hard to chase. We have to change plans quickly. You have to start fresh after quick wickets. I will keep this innings ahead," said Sarkar.

Sarkar needs to show similar form in the third ODI on 15 July to clinch the series. South Africa will be equally keen to win and come down hard on Bangladesh after their second ODI loss.

Bangaldesh had another reason to celebrate after their win against South Africa in the second ODI as they have qualified for the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy. With this, either Pakistan or West Indies can claim the only remaining slot.