There are few better cities in the world than London in the sunshine but unlike the swathes of locals and tourists who flocked to the South Bank to sit by the Thames and drink Pimms on Saturday, soaking up the sun, it promises to be a less relaxing weekend for South Africa. After their opening game defeat to England, they know another loss to Bangladesh would be highly damaging to their campaign.
Given the format of the tournament, there is plenty of time for teams to make up lost ground but the more early defeats a side suffers, the more they will need to go on an unbeaten run later on, trying to claw back lost momentum to reach the semi-finals. It’s doable of course but it would much more preferable for South Africa if they make sure their opening game blip does not become a rut, particularly against a team, ranked seventh in the world, which on paper they are stronger than.
Bangladesh are tricky customers, however. Their recent form has been good, with the fourth best win-loss record in the last 12 months of any team in the tournament. They won the recent tri-series in Ireland and reached the final of last year’s Asia Cup. Importantly, nine of their 14 wins in the last year have come outside Bangladesh and their three defeats of West Indies during the tri-series confirmed they are developing a more rounded game. They did, however, lose their only completed warm-up game heavily against India.
They rely on a core of experienced players, led well by Mushrafe Mortaza, and their fortunes in their tournament will rest on the performances of those men. Unfortunately, they have had a number of injury concerns with those senior players in the lead-up to this game and with a relatively thin squad they cannot afford to be without the likes of Tamim Iqbal and Mustafizur Rahman at any stage.
The line coming out from a number of captains is that this a tournament where their teams are going to attack with the ball, hunting wickets. In other words, high risk, for high reward. Faf du Plessis said as much before South Africa’s opening game against England. Jason Holder confirmed that was West Indies’ plan after running through Pakistan at Trent Bridge. England picked 90mph-plus Jofra Archer for that very reason, too.
South Africa are certain to stick to that tactic at The Oval with their opponents likely to get a dose of the short stuff. Bangladesh, however, will approach things rather differently. Without a wrist-spinner who can turn the ball both ways or a genuine quick, their strength is in the suffocating nature of their bowling with captain Mortaza, Shakib-al-Hasan and Mustafizur Rahman, who has taken 32 wickets in his last 19 matches, to the fore.
Spinners Mehidy Hasan Miraz and Shakib have conceded less than 4.4 runs an over in the last 12 months and overall Bangladesh have conceded just a smidge more than five runs an over, second only to Afghanistan of teams in the tournament. What they lack in speed and mystery spin, they make up for in control, smarts and clever use of variation. If the pitch is tacky and slower than is typical at The Oval, as it was for the England-South Africa match, Bangladesh will fancy their chances.
While South Africa’s bowlers, even without Dale Steyn who should return for the game against India, did a good job in their opening game, their batting, admittedly against some excellent English bowling, looked frantic. Perhaps it was first day nerves but it is the area of the team which is more unproven in one-day cricket and needs attention. The absence of Hashim Amla will not help matters for this game and they will certainly need to be more calculating against the smarts of Bangladesh.
When:Sunday June 2, 2019. 10.30am Local Time
Where:The Oval, London.
What to expect: The weather in London was glorious the day before the match but is expected to cloudy, but warm, on Sunday. It will be the same pitch as the one used for the first game of the tournament which was slower and tackier than is typical at The Oval. It is likely to be similar on Sunday.
South Africa:South Africa could make a couple of changes to their side with Chris Morris likely to replace Dwaine Pretorious to add more pace and aggression to the attack. David Miller, surprisingly left out of the first match, might come in for Hashim Amla who is recovering from the concussion he suffered against England when Jofra Archer hit him in the helmet. A decision on Amla will be made before the toss.
Possible XI: Quinton de Kock, Aiden Markram, Faf du Plessis, David Miller, Rassie van der Dussen, JP Duminy, Chris Morris, Andil Phehlukwayo, Kasigo Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Imran Tahir
Bangladesh:Bangladesh have had a number of injury concerns in the lead-up to the game. Tamim Iqbal, who was hit in the nets on Friday, has not suffered a fracture but has got bruising while Mortaza and Rahman also have hamstring and calf injuries respectively. All three will be monitored over the next 24 hours to see whether they will play.
Possible XI: Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Shakib-al-Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mahmadullah, Liton Das, Sabbir Rahman, Mushrafe Mortaza, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Mustafizur Rahman, Rubel Hossain.
What they said
“It’s a competition where we have to play a lot of games, and we only played one game, so we just can’t go and have like ten meetings and say blame to the batsman and blame to the bowlers; we did that and you did that. We are the kind of team which we believe in each other and we enjoy each other’s success… Like I said, we just lost to one of the best teams in the world on that day, and they played good cricket. So if we learn from our mistakes, I think we’ll be fine,” Imran Tahir on the mood in South Africa dressing room
“He had a fitness test. I think Tamim will give a final call, how he is feeling. It all depends on him. Players understand how they are feeling. Tamim will give his final call.” – Mortaza on Tamim’s availability