Bangladesh begin what is a pretty important tour of South Africa on Friday when the two sides meet in the first of three ODIs. The opening match comes from SuperSport Park in Centurion where we should be treated to some decent cricket.
Bangladesh have been an improving side in 50 over cricket over the last seven years or so and with the World Cup in home conditions next year they have the chance to do something special. South Africa need to win matches fast if they are to avoid the qualifying event for that competition.
When you consider that it wasn’t long ago that South Africa were beating India in an ODI series, the fact that they are still not out of the woods when it comes to needing to qualify for the next World Cup is pretty strange. Admittedly they used the early period of this cycle to blood some new talent but a side with this quality in it shouldn’t really be failing to win ODI series against Ireland and Sri Lanka like they did last year. It has left them needing to knuckle down and play their best cricket throughout this year.
The one issue South Africa had was the balance of their side after some key individuals quit after the last World Cup, a tournament they were never really at the races in. Their positive T20 World Cup looks to have spurred them into life though and in that competition they went with a couple of all-rounders which worked well. Now they just need to find a regular finisher to an innings because they have most other bases covered.
Bangladesh will be inconvenienced by not having played a warm up match for this series but the positive for them is that it was only a couple of weeks or so ago that they were beating Afghanistan in a 50 over series. Although conditions will be much different here, at least they have recent experience of the format which is something which their players can use to their advantage here, although they probably won’t need reminding that their record in this part of the world is terrible.
They have never won a match in South Africa in any format of the game although it should be said that they have only played two Tests, three ODIs and a couple of T20s here since 2008 and in white ball cricket in particular they are a completely different side now. They have a bowling attack which can be competitive even in these seamer friendly conditions and their batters are much more accustomed to deliver decent totals overseas too.
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South Africa have announced that their IPL stars will not be available for the Test series which follows these ODIs but they are around for now which means that Kagiso Rabada is available. Anrich Nortje is still injured though as is Sisanda Magala.
Bangladesh are expected to go in with the same side which lined up for them in the last ODI against Afghanistan last month unless there is a late illness or injury which hasn’t been declared. Shakib Al Hasan was expected to miss the tour but he was convinced to travel and will play.
SuperSport Park is usually a very high scoring ground and the fact that we have another game here next week makes me think that we will get a decent pitch to open up this series with. That makes me think the trend of high scoring games will continue, not just because I think the wicket will play well but also because the general method of these two sides is to bat very deep and look to get on with it at the top of the innings when the fielding restrictions are in place.
Bangladesh will be a much better batting side for having Tamim Iqbal back in their ranks than say at the T20 World Cup last year where he was missing and he, along with the likes of Liton Das, Shakib, Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah, all have oceans of overseas experience. South Africa have plenty of runs in their side as well so I think the run line here is quite low at 501.5. Most first innings scores in the modern ODI game surpass 250 and I think both have that figure in their ranks here.
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