For the second time in the tournament against a quality bowling attack, Bangladesh’s batsmen were blown away and the result was a massive defeat for the last eight aspirants. South Africa, with a superlative performance with both bat and ball, now have an unassailable 10 points and have ensured the first place in Group B, regardless of the result of the India vs. West Indies encounter at Chennai on Sunday.
At Mirpur, South Africa won the toss and decided to bat first. Hashim Amla and Graeme Smith provided the solid start that South Africa needed. Amla started with a cover drive for four off the last ball of the first and second overs. Smith too picked up initial boundaries against Rubel Hossain and Shafiul Islam. South Africa reached their first fifty in the 9th over but once spinners came on at both ends, the batsmen adopted a cautious approach.
The partnership moved along to 98 without any problems when Mahmudullah struck for Bangladesh. He saw Smith advancing down the track and cleverly pulled back the length of the delivery. The ball turned, Smith missed and wicket keeper Mushfiqur Rahim effected a good stumping. Amla was also dismissed soon as he got an inside edge on an attempted cover drive and saw the stumps being dislodged. JP Duminy and Jacques Kallis tried the consolidation route when in the 30th over, Duminy couldn’t play a ball to fine leg cleanly and ended up giving a catch to Mushfiqur Rahim. At 141/3 after 30 overs, it appeared Bangladesh’s spinners would strangle the remaining batsmen.
Kallis seemed to have got an ideal partner in Faf Du Plessis to try and take the game away from Bangladesh. They were successful as 52 runs came off the next ten overs. With wickets in hand, South Africa could now accelerate in the final stretch of their innings. Kallis reached his half century in the 42nd over and then decided to go after the bowling. A six off Naeem Islam and a four off Mahmudullah were the results. However, he was dismissed very much against the run of play in the 45th over as his attempted drive went straight to the hands of the bowler Shakib Al Hasan.
Du Plessis at the other end, had been at the crease for some time and had gauged the nature of the pitch. He launched into Abdur Razzak’s left arm spin with a pulled six, a pulled four and an inside edge that went to the boundary. He reached his half century too in the process. Though he was dismissed soon, Johan Botha and Robin Peterson played lovely cameos to guide South Africa to a strong 284/8 in their allotted 50 overs.
One was not sure if South Africa’s decision to rest both Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel was a wise one. But it proved more than wise as Lonwabo Tsotsobe tore into the Bangladesh top order taking out Tamim Iqbal, Imrul Kayes and Shahriar Nafees to leave them teetering on the brink at 21/4 in the 8th over. With the exception of Shakib Al Hasan, none of the Bangladesh batsmen showed any application whatsoever as they were eventually dismissed for 78 in just 28 overs. Tsotsobe finished with 3/14 and was ably supported by the spinners. Robin Peterson took 4/12 while Johan Botha and Imran Tahir finished with a wicket each.
South Africa’s clinical display must have satiated Graeme Smith who wanted the perfect game. Even without their frontline seamers, they proved that they have the bowling to crumble opposition batting line ups. Smith would also be happy that he could score some runs at the top of the order. With the top place in their group, they will in all likelihood play New Zealand in the quarter finals.
Bangladesh were poor in batting, to say the least. The top and middle order never looked the part of chasing 285 and simply succumbed to the South African bowling. They promised a lot in this World Cup but their batting shortcomings were exposed by West Indies and South Africa. They can very well say goodbye to the World Cup unless West Indies suffer a massive defeat against India on Sunday, a very unlikely prospect.