TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
SA have won six of the eight matches they have played at Shere Bangla National stadium in Dhaka, but their two losses there stick out like a broken bottle on a beach.
That was where they crashed out of the 2011 World Cup in their quarter-final against New Zealand. Last year, India ended their bid to win the World T20 at the semi-final stage at the ground. Both setbacks have festered in the SA cricket consciousness.
New Zealand had no business beating one of the most talented, skilled and experienced combinations SA have yet put on the field. The crux was the New Zealanders played as a team while SA were less than the sum of their parts.
India swept SA aside as if they were playing a backyard game against their little brothers with a jug of lemonade – not a place in the WT20 final – the winners’ prize.
SA will be satisfied with their two consummate victories they have achieved at the ground since Sunday to beat the home side in the T20 series.
But it will need more of the same in the first one-day international between the teams at the Shere Bangla on Friday – and the second on Sunday – to help SA take the edge off their dark Dhaka memories.
That said, the Bangladeshis are hopeful they can bounce back, not least because they took ODI series off Pakistan and India in April and June.
“Their ODI record is a lot better than their T20 record so we will be giving Bangladesh all the respect the deserve, certainly over their recent performance,” Hashim Amla told reporters in Dhaka yesterday.
Actually, Bangladesh’s records in those formats are similar: they have won 30.39% of their ODIs and 27.27% of their T20s. But no equation is necessary to arrive at the fact that their confidence is flying high as a flag.
A lot of it has been sparked by a flare-up of fast bowling in a team who have tended to rely on spin. That was the case in the series against Pakistan, when slow poison claimed 10 of the 23 wickets taken by Bangladesh. But, against India, their pacemen took 21 of the 24 sticks.
Thirteen of them fell to left-arm sensation Mustafizur Rahman, who looms as the stiffest challenge SA’s batsmen will face.
And a SA batting line-up, mind, that is without AB de Villiers, whose one-match ban by the International Cricket Council for a slow over-rate has prompted SA to release him for the series. De Villiers had been due to return home after the rubber to be with his wife, Danielle, for the birth of their first child.
“Who wouldn’t miss AB in a team,” stand-in skipper Amla said. “He is probably one of the best fielders in the world, and he is definitely the best batsman in the world. We will miss him but it’s a good chance for someone else.”
The AN Other is likely to be Farhaan Behardien, who is no-one’s idea of AB de Villiers. Then again, who is?
SA’s attack has been bolstered by the return of Imran Tahir, Ryan McLaren and Morne Morkel, who were not in the T20 squad. Kagiso Rabada and Chris Morris, who were in the T20 mix, have stayed on.
Whatever. Whoever. Any which way SA pick their side, it will be stronger than their opponents’.