Inspired by Rustom Deboo’s throwback to the 2000 Asia Cup, I wanted to look back on a more recent edition of the tournament.
After three days of one-sided matches in the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup, fans and organisers were hoping for a close game between Bangladesh and South Africa at The Oval.
Having won the toss, South Africa elected to field, with Faf du Plessis explicitly mentioning that he wanted to exploit the Bangladesh top order with pace and bounce.
An injury to Hashim Amla in the opening game led to David Miller being recalled into the playing XI, while Chris Morris replaced Dwaine Pretorius. Despite an injury scare to Tamim Iqbal, Bangladesh fielded their strongest XI as they encountered their first 2019 World Cup match.
From the first over Bangladesh signalled their intentions to go hard at the South African seamers. The new ball pair of Lungi Ngidi and Kagiso Rabada tried to bounce the Bangladesh openers out, but their plan didn’t work, as Bangladesh raced off to 50 for no loss in just seven overs.
First-change bowlers Andile Phehlukwayo and Chris Morris gave South Africa the openings they needed, sending openers Tamim Iqbal (16 off 29) and Soumya Sarkar (42 off 30) back to the sheds within the 12th over.
The halt to Bangladesh’s progress in the innings was temporary. Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim (78 off 80) took their time to settle in before cashing in. The pair put on 142 for the third wicket before Shakib was dismissed for 75. Between the 36th to 43rd over Bangladesh went from 2-217 to 5-250.
South Africa was fighting back and Bangladesh were slowly losing the plot. But a calming influence in Mahmudullah Riyad (46 off 33) and his Mymensingh counterpart Mossadek Hossain (26 off 20) ensured Bangladesh wouldn’t post a below-par score. The pair kept the scoreboard ticking before unleashing in the final 24 balls of their innings, smashing 54 runs as Bangladesh posted 6-330.
The Tigers had posted their highest ODI score, and on a used pitch with three spinners the chase would be difficult for the South Africans.
South Africa’s openers start well, hitting many boundaries, but there were too many dot balls in between, creating pressure. The pressure would unfold as Quinton de Kock was run out for 23 by Mushfiqur Rahim. South Africa were 1-51 after the powerplay.
Faf du Plessis joined Aiden Markram and the Proteas skipper bat with aggressive intent, taking on the Bangladesh seamers. The pair added 53 for the second wicket before Markram did the worst thing possible: he played on the back foot to a Shakib arm ball. It skid through and took middle and leg.
To counter Shakib’s wily off-spin, David Miller came in ahead of Rassie van der Dussen at No. 4. Miller took his time while Du Plessis played the aggressor’s role, reaching his 50 off 45 deliveries. The South African skipper was causing problems for the Bangladesh bowlers, and it would need something special for Du Plessis to be dismissed.
Boy did Mehedi Hasan triumph when it was needed. Despite the pitch being quite slow, there wasn’t a crazy amount of turn. Yet when the young off-spinner pitched one outside off in the 27th over it gripped and turned before hitting Du Plessis’s leg stump. The Oval crowd was full and mostly comprised the Bangladesh diaspora in England, and they went nuts after the Proteas skipper was sent packing.
Miller and Van Der Dussen both got scores of 35-plus, but Mustafizur Rahman and Mohammad Saifuddin dismissed them before the damage could be further inflicted.
A wicket maiden by Saifuddin in the 40th over spelt trouble for South Africa – 103 was needed in 60 balls with five wickets remaining. JP Duminy tried his hardest to keep the required run rate in check, but the wickets of Andile Phehlukwayo and Chris Morris spelt trouble for South Africa – 7-275 with 56 required off 25.
Duminy didn’t hold back before Mustafizur Rahman dismissed the all-rounder for 45. Kagiso Rabada and Imran Tahir hit a few blows, but Bangladesh already delivered the final knockout, winning by 21 runs.
Bangladesh’s steady progress as an ODI side from the 2015 World Cup was shown once again, and this was anything but an upset. Instead, this was a wake-up call to other competing nations not to take Bangladesh lightly this World Cup lest they suffer the same fate as South Africa. Usually, after a win like this, Bangladesh players would show their emotions and celebrate hard. Not this time. They had treated this as a regulation win and they were wary that New Zealand would be a more robust opposition in a few days.
South Africa had shot themselves in the foot from the toss. Firstly, chasing big totals in a World Cup spells trouble as the magnitude of a World Cup game is on the players’ back. Secondly, why chase on a used pitch against a side consisting of three spinners?
Faf du Plessis’s plan to bounce the Bangladesh team had backfired massively. Sure, Lungi Ngidi may have walked off the field with a hamstring injury, but he conceded 34 runs in four overs. To not have played an extra wrist spinner in Tabraiz Shamsi on a used wicket showed the lack of respect South African cricket had towards spinners.
When AB de Villiers had retired from international cricket in 2018 I immediately ticked off Bangladesh to beat South Africa. His presence and reputation itself created fear into Bangladesh bowlers many times. When I wrote the preview for this match last year, I predicted that if Kagiso Rabada were negated, Bangladesh would’ve won 40 per cent of the battle. His figures were 0-57 after ten overs, so I’d say I got my prediction right.
Although Bangladesh didn’t make the semi-finals of the World Cup, wins like these had shown the ODI side was on the right track.
Bangladesh 6-330 (Mushfiqur Rahim 78, Shakib Al Hasan 75, Andile Phehlukwayo 2-52, Imran Tahir 2-57) beat South Africa 8-309 (Faf Du Plessis 62, JP Duminy 45, Mustafizur Rahman 3-67, Mohammad Saifuddin 2-57) by 21 runs.