South Africa against Bangladesh, if we talked about the contest a decade ago, the odds would have been heavily in favor of the Proteas. But the Asian country is the most improved side in the cricketing fraternity in the past. Even though South Africa playing in its own backyard would still be the preferred choice yet Bangladesh can’t be counted out.
The last Test series for South Africa came in England where they lost the 4-match series by a margin of 3-1. The Proteas side was the best traveling side in the past few years but they suffered a humiliating loss. They’ll play a Test at home for the first time after January when they defeated Sri Lanka 3-0.
On the other hand, Bangladesh is coming fresh from a scintillating series back home against Australia where they defeated the opposition for the first time ever in whites. Even though they lost the 2nd Test, yet it was a spirited performance that speaks tons about the progress of Bangladesh cricket.
But now, it’s going to be a stern examination playing in South Africa. Where the spinners dominate back home on the dusty surfaces of Dhaka and Chittagong, they are not going to see any of that in the Rainbow Nation. The spinners will be left playing the supporting role on unresponsive pitches. The batsmen too are going to have a tough time on bouncy surfaces, something they hardly see in their own backyard.
With Hashim Amla, Dean Elgar, Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock in the batting line-up, the Proteas are assured of big scores almost every time. AB de Villiers is not a part of the squad but the side is used to not having him in the longest format of the game. The focus though will be on Amla who has been the most prolific run-getter across formats for the country.
Dale Steyn misses out yet again and Vernon Philander is also not in the side. In their absence, the leader of the attack will be Kagiso Rabada. The youngster has been absolutely magnificent for the nation recently and he is bound to give a hard time for the Bangladeshi batsmen. The spin department would be handled by Keshav Maharaj who has grown in stature of late.
The team will miss the services of their ace all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan who has taken a break from Test cricket for 6 months. In his absence, the responsibility lies heavily on the shoulders of Tamim Iqbal and the captain Mushfiqur Rahim. These are the 2 batsmen who have seen the bouncy conditions before and if they fail, the others might go down pretty quickly.
While the focus remains on Bangladeshi spinners most of the times they play, this time around, they will be just playing the supporting role. It’s time for the pacers like Taskin Ahmed, Mustafizur Rahman and Rubel Hossain to step up and make use of the helpful conditions. It’s not going to be easy for them though as the South African batsmen bat day in and day out on such surfaces but nevertheless, it will be a learning experience for the quicks that they should cherish.
South Africa: Hashim Amla, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Dean Elgar, Faf du Plessis (c), Theunis de Bruyn, Quinton de Kock (wk), Temba Bavuma, Aiden Markram, Kagiso Rabada, Andile Phehlukwayo, Keshav Maharaj, Duanne Olivier
Bangladesh: Mushfiqur Rahim (c & wk), Tamim Iqbal, Mahmudullah, Imrul Kayes, Rubel Hossain, Shafiul Islam, Mominul Haque, Sabbir Rahman, Soumya Sarkar, Taijul Islam, Liton Das, Taskin Ahmed, Mustafizur Rahman, Subashis Roy, Mehidy Hasan
1st Test- September 28 – October 02 at Senwes Park, Potchefstroom
2nd Test- October 06 – October 10 at Mangaung Oval, Bloemfontein