In what turned out to be the first good contest of the World Cup, Bangladesh once again proved that they are no longer minnows or even a side capable of doing well only at home. The Mashrafe Mortaza-led team came up with a highly efficient performance to inflict a defeat on South Africa, their second in the tournament after losing to England in the opening game of the tournament.
What went wrong for SA
The seed for Proteas' loss was sowed even before the start of the game when Faf du Plessis won the toss and decided to put Bangladesh into bat. He must have been hoping for his bowlers, especially Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi to make use of what he construed as helpful conditions.
However, there wasn't much help for the bowlers. Despite that, Rabada and Ngidi did create many chances but their bad luck prevented any of the edges or mistimed shots from going to the hands of the fielders. But once the initial spell of testing bowling was over, the innings flourished as the entire bowling attack couldn't put the brakes on the Bangladesh batsmen.
Tamim Iqbal wasn't quite at the top of his game but Soumya Sarkar was striking the ball beautifully to keep the run rate at a good level. But once these two were removed, it was the turn of the veterans Shakib al-Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim to take control and play in such a smooth manner that the vaunted Protean attack with the likes of Rabada and Imran Tahir were made to look ordinary. The maintenance of a decent run rate meant that Tigers were well on their way to a score over well over 300.
Then South Africa made a bit of a comeback thanks to some quick wickets. From 217/2 in 35 overs, Bangladesh went to 250/5 in 42.1 overs. But then Mahmudullah, who has been the most reliable batsman for Bangladesh over the last year came to the fore and played a quickfire knock – 46 off 33 balls – to take his team to 330/6. What really hurt SA were the last four overs that went for over 50 runs. In the end, these proved to be the chief cause of defeat for them.
Reply by Proteas
South Africa were missing Hashim Amla due to the blow on the head he suffered in the first game. However, Quinton de Kock ensured that his team got off to a slow but steady start along with Aiden Markram. But in the 10th over, de Kock was dropped by Mushfiqur but in the confusion the Protean keeper ended up getting run out.
Faf du Plessis and Markram kept the ship steady. The South African captain looked in great form and as he spent more time at the wicket, started to open up and play some delightful and, at times, cheeky shots. But when he tried to hit Mehidy Hasan Miraj over the mid-off, the ball snuck through to knock the stumps.
This put South Africa back in the game and they never regained ascendancy. The pattern of batsmen getting out after getting set and just when they were looking to accelerate continued through the innings. The same thing happened to Rassie van der Dussen who, with some luck, was playing well and keeping his team on track until he went for a big hit over the leg side and got bowled. At 228/5 in 39.1 overs, it seemed a difficult task for Proteas to get anywhere close to their opponent's score.
But JP Duminy stayed firm at the crease and kept his team in the hunt. When he hit couple of boundaries in the 47th over, it seemed as if the game is very much alive. But a slower ball bouncer from Mustafizur in the next over ended his attempts. 'The Fizz' was in brilliant form as he picked up three wickets to ensure that his team ended up winning the match without any last-minute scare.
Ramifications for the World Cup
The World Cup is now picking up steam and Bangladesh have ensured that they are as much deserving of being considered serious contenders for the title as most other teams. South Africa now have a tough challenge ahead of them with two losses from two matches. Their next game against India would be even more testing. The likely return of Hashim Amla and Dale Steyn would be a much-needed boost. But they also need everyone else to raise their game. Just 50s and average bowling efforts are not going to win matches. They need players to stand up and produce big performances. Let's see if these come against India.