Bangladesh punched above their weight to emerge victorious by 21 runs in their opening game against South Africa. The Proteas batsmen failed to convert solid starts into big scores as they succumbed to their second defeat of the tournament and the noose is only getting tightened around them.
How Bangladesh’s batsmen harmonized each other
Despite the absence of Dale Steyn, South Africa do have one of the best bowling attacks in the 2019 World Cup and have the ability to run through any batting line-up on their day. When Bangladeshi openers walked out to bat, not many would have backed them to cross the 300-run mark, let alone 330 but a collective effort saw them defying the odds. Their core fired and ensured Bangladesh had a challenging total on the board against the intimidating South African attack.
After a steady start, the middle-order provided a good platform for a massive total, which was rightly capitalised by the lower order. Soumya Sarkar set the tone after which, Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim brought their massive experience into play to stitch a match-winning 142-run stand. The duo batted with absolute flair, there were no half measures when they wanted to hit the ball and rotation of strike was the key here.
After a little hiccup, Mahmudullah steadied the Bangladeshi ship with a crucial cameo and was well supported by Mosaddek Hossain from the other end. There was not a single centurion from Bangladesh’s innings, yet they posted 330 runs on the board. They didn’t rely on one or two individuals to get the job done, which is a big positive at the start of the tournament. They are rightly known as the Tigers who have just sharpened their claws and if they manage to pull their weight together, they will certainly go a long way.
South African batsmen need to convert emphatic starts into daddy hundreds, especially de Kock and du Plessis
One wouldn’t be wrong in saying that South Africa appear to be a toothless tiger without AB de Villiers. And to fill that void, de Kock and du Plessis have to go big. At the moment, their batting is built around these two and lack the kind of firepower England, India, and Australia possess. For them, to win any game, these guys have to go big and get daddy hundreds under their belt, especially while chasing a mammoth target of 331.
The pitch didn’t have much to offer and the target was well within South Africa’s reach, but their batsmen’s inability to convert emphatic starts into substantial scores cost them the game. They didn’t have a single centurion in this innings, which is pivotal while chasing a target as big as 331. Their top six batsmen got a good start, but barring du Plessis none of them managed to cross the 50-run mark, which is atrocious at this level. One just cannot fizzle out after getting set, in fact, the skipper too scored just 62. He needed to get a massive hundred here, especially after de Kock’s early fall.
Just when their batsmen looked set to unleash some big strokes, Bangladesh managed to breakthrough. Had du Plessis got to the 100-run milestone or any other batsman pushed the bar a little, the target would have been chased. And their losing margin of just 21 runs upholds the belief. They still have seven games to go, with a well-oiled bowling attack, if their batsmen start playing big innings, South Africa will give the teams a run for their money.
Mustafizur Rahman’s golden opportunity to inscribe his name with gold
Mustafizur Rahman became an overnight sensation after that memorable debut against India back in 2015. He was tipped to be the next big thing in Bangladesh and had the ingredients to evolve into one. His knack of bowling off-cutters like a spinner but at the pace of a pacer made him stand out among his imminent peers and turned out to be very handy in the death overs. However, Rahman failed to weave similar magic in the last couple of years, though he was effective.
In first 19 games of his ODI career, Mustafizur bagged 43 wickets at a staggering average of 17.18, while the last 28 games saw him picking the same number of wickets (43) at an expensive average of 27.37. It was believed that his mystery had been worked out, but when on song he is still unplayable.
Coming to the World Cup, he stood a golden chance to make an impact on the grandest stage of ODI cricket and in the first game, he did that to an extent. His pace was on the up, control was immaculate and troubled the batsmen more often than not. He may have leaked a few runs, but bagging three crucial wickets in such a high-scoring game demands a special set of skills. Not to forget, there was a dropped catch of Miller and a healthy edge off Markram’s willow, which could have gone the other way only to better the left-armer’s numbers.