Bangladesh make a bright start
Faf du Plessis won the toss and elected to field. His decision was a foot in the right direction as teams batting first have won just 33% of their games since the 2015 World Cup at Kennington Oval.
Bangladeshi opener Tamim Iqbal and Soumya Sarkar negated the new ball threat of Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi. Both the bowlers were hitting the good length quite often until they decided to change the ploy and try short stuff. The ploy backfired after Sarkar who has a Strike Rate of 96 against short ball whacked Lungi Ngidi for consecutive fours in the 5th over.
In the same over, Ngidi changed the angle and forced Sarkar to play a false short but adding insult to injury he saw the ball fly between the first and second slip to the boundary, with the strapping bowler literally on his knees after the incident. The frustration was clearly visible with the pacers when Rabada banged in a short ball which zipped past a lunging Quinton De Kock. Sarkar was going at a Strike Rate of 166 hence allowing his partner to settle down and hold one end together. Both added 60 for the first wicket before Andile Phehlukwayo removed Tamim for 16 in his very first over, a much needed breakthrough for the Proteas.
The pacers continued with the short pitched deliveries but changed the line of attack. After Phehlukwayo was successful by bowling over the wicket, Chris Morris tried the same and immediately got the reward. In the 12th over, Sarkar managed to glove a short ball that was attacked at his body. De Kock did the formalities by diving forward and taking the catch without any problems.
The hard yards put in by the openers seemed to have been negated but in came Shakib-Al-Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim, the most experienced players in the current batting line-up. Since 2018, batting at crucial number three spot, Shakib has a healthy average of over 50. Both added 142 for the fourth wicket, the highest partnership for Bangladesh in World Cups. Shakib perished after playing a fine knock of 75. His stumps were dismantled while trying to play a cross batted sweep behind square off Imran Tahir. The incoming batsmen, Mohammad Mithun scored a 21 ball 21 before being removed, again, by Tahir. Soon Mushfiqur followed the road to pavilion but not before scoring a majestic 78.
Shakib and Mushfiqur’s partnership laid a perfect launching pad for Mosaddek Hossain and Mahmudullah. Bangladesh scored 86 in the final ten overs courtesy of the duo. Mossadek played a 20 ball 26 run cameo whereas Mahmudullah remained unbeaten till the end after amassing a 33 ball 46. They ensured Bangladesh notch 330/6 in their allotted 50, their highest score in ODIs.
The all-rounder, Phehlukwayo was the best bowler for the Proteas. He gave away 52 runs and picked 2 important wickets. Tahir as usual managed to put some brakes in the scoring rate by picking 2 wickets in the middle overs. Morris and Rabada looked off and the injury to Ngidi didn’t help their cause. He could bowl only four overs in the match. The energy levels of the Proteas were down and it was evident in their fielding. They dropped catches and were sloppy in their field. A bowler short and a flat pitch saw their bowlers getting smashed all over the Oval.
South Africa chokes to spin
The Proteas were hunting a record 331 which would be the highest successful run chase in World Cups. Quinton de Kock had a new opening partner-Aiden Markram as Hashim Amla was injured. Bangladesh had an ideal ploy to de Kock, introducing Mehidy Hasan early. A good move considering De Kock gets dismissed every 28 balls to an off spinner, his worst record against any bowling technique.
De Kock and Markram gave a decent start after adding 49 for the first wicket. Although the drama was at its peak. Markram escaping a run-out and De Kock nearly chopping a ball in to his stumps. De Kock was not second time lucky. In the 10th over, De Kock was dropped off Mehidy Hasan’s bowling by Mushfiqur but a confusion between both the batsmen left the left-hander stranded in the middle.
Du Plessis promoted himself to 3 slot and along with Markram stitched a 53 run partnership for the second wicket. Shakib broke the partnership after he bamboozled Markram with a slider. In the process he reached 250 wickets in ODI, the fastest all-rounder to reach 250 wickets and score 5000 runs.
By the time Markram was gone the required rate jumped over 8. Faf tried to keep up with the scoring rate down by hitting few lusty blows. He reached his half century but couldn’t convert it to something substantial, which was the need of the hour. Bangladesh had three spinners: Shakib, Mosaddek and Mehidy operating in tandem. They freezed the scoring-rate in the middle overs which forced Du Plessis to play a needless shot and eventually threw his wicket.
David Miller who came as a replacement for Hashim Amla added another 55 runs for the fifth wicket with Rassie van der Dussen. It was a T20 like situation with the proteas requiring another 130 from the last 15 overs.
The batsmen in the middle were capable of pulling off a Houdini act but lost Miller in the 36th over. From there on it didn’t seem very promising. The incoming batsman, Jean Paul Duminy has been struggling for runs. Rassie showed some positive intent and raised a little hope in the Proteas camp but after he was dismissed by Mohammad Saifuddin the chase was way out of their reach.
102 from the last ten overs was nearly impossible given the Proteas lost half their side by then. Duminy tried his level best but ‘the Fizz’, who is known for his death bowling, was too hot to handle for the African lower order. South Africa fell short by 21 runs and handed Bangladesh their second win over them in World Cups.
The spin troika of Mehidy, Shakib and Mosaddek gave away 132 and took 2 wickets in 26 overs between them and changed the complexion to hand The Tigers a dream start to the tournament.