Bangladesh on brink of history

“Everyone is aware of the standings and where we are and the importance of getting that automatic qualification.” – Kyle Verreynne on the World Cup Super League standings.

Telford Vice | Cape Town

HOW much would it mean to Bangladesh to win the third ODI against South Africa in Centurion on Wednesday? That’s difficult to say, because it’s impossible to overstate the impact victory would have for the game in their country.

Bangladesh have played 71 bilateral series across the formats away or in neutral countries. They’ve won only 10, and just four of those successes — all against West Indies — can be considered to have been achieved against serious opposition.

The only other teams Bangladesh beaten outside of their own backyard have been Zimbabwe, Kenya and Ireland. So getting over the line on Wednesday could be considered the apex of their history in the game at international level, which started almost 36 years ago.

What are their chances? Minimal, we might have thought before the first match of the rubber in Centurion on Friday — when they twice broke the record for their highest partnership in South Africa, put up 314/7, the only time they have made 250 or more in the country, and won by 38 runs.

The home side levelled matters on a difficult pitch at the Wanderers on Sunday, when they won by seven wickets. So the fact that the series will return to the scene of Bangladesh’s win for the decider can only be good news for the visitors.

That will be tempered by the fact that Quinton de Kock missed Friday’s game because he was recovering from illness but played on Sunday and promptly blitzed 62 off 41 balls. But, just as importantly, Bangladesh have retained the services of ace allrounder Shakib al Hasan — who has remained with the squad despite several members of his family having been admitted to hospital. 

Shakib will instead go home after Wednesday’s match, which is also when Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortjé, Marco Jansen, Rassie van der Dussen and Aiden Markram are due to leave to play in the IPL. None of those players will thus feature in the Test series that starts at Kingsmead next Thursday.

But that is another drama for another day. Wednesday’s tussle has its own narrative. It could be cast not only as Bangladesh’s moment of truth — and that of South Africa, who had never lost to the Tigers at home before Wednesday — but as a clash between the team on top of the World Cup Super League standings and the side currently in ninth place. Or one spot below where they need to be to qualify automatically for the 2023 World Cup. That Bangladesh are that No. 1 team and South Africa are, at this stage, frozen out of the direct route into the global showpiece is part of the intrigue of Wednesday’s game.

Bangladesh have proven they can compete with the South Africans in all departments and in their own conditions, and there’s no reason they won’t do so again. Litton Das, Shakib and Yasir Ali all scored half-centuries on Friday, and Shoriful Islam and Taskin Ahmed revelled in the pace and bounce offered by a Highveld pitch and took five wickets at less than a run-a-ball between them. De Kock’s presence will likely equalise matters, and adds to the promise of a keen contest.

The odds nonetheless favour a South African win. They are, after all, at home and they have developed an unhelpful tendency to start series poorly before roaring back. But they will know the Bangladeshis will not go down without a fight. And especially not on the brink of a famous victory.

When: Wednesday, 1pm Local Time

Where: Centurion 

What to expect: A better pitch for batting than the roller-coaster we saw at the Wanderers on Friday. The forecast says there’s not much chance of rain, but you can never discount a late afternoon storm on the Highveld in summer. And more support in the ground for Bangladesh than for the home side.

Team news

South Africa: Temba Bavuma’s finger, which he injured trying to take a catch off his own bowling at the Wanderers, won’t keep him out of the decider. But Wayne Parnell, who injured a hamstring in the same match, is not in the reckoning.

Possible XI: Janneman Malan, Quinton de Kock, Kyle Verreynne, Temba Bavuma (capt), Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Marco Jansen, Lungi Ngidi, Tabraiz Shamsi. 

Bangladesh: Expect the visitors to stick with the side who have taken them to within one win of their first successful series in any format in South Africa.

Possible XI: Tamim Iqbal (capt), Litton Das, Shakib al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim, Yasir Ali, Mahmudullah, Afif Hossain, Mehidy Hasan, Taskin Ahmed, Shoriful Islam, Mustafizur Rahman.

What they said:

“I wouldn’t say we’ve had in-depth conversations about it, but everyone is aware of the standings and where we are and the importance of getting that automatic qualification. It’s not something we’ve spent a massive amount of time discussing. For us it’s about taking each game as it comes and making sure we’re in the best space possible for the game that’s ahead of us. We’ve still got a lot of games ahead, and I believe if we do that we’ll get the points we need to qualify. We know what we need to do.” – Kyle Verreynne on the World Cup Super League standings.

“Shakib is fine. Naturally something is on his mind but he is not showing it to anyone. That is a very positive sign. No-one is discussing it and everyone is letting him stay on his own. The good thing is that he is not letting anyone see he is going through a tough period.” – Bangladesh selector Habibul Bashar on Shakib al Hasan.

First published by Cricbuzz.

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Bangladesh on brink of history