Bored SA remain the better team. Now they need to prove it

Times Media

TELFORD VICE, Cape Town

BALL-by-ball coverage of SA taking Bangladesh apart for the fourth time in as many matches in Dhaka on Sunday was surely not worth bothering with. Even the highlights would be too much – just the result, please, and with it confirmation of SA’s effortless victory in the one-day series to go with their thumping win in the T20 rubber.

But the story of the second one-day international could be told in less time than it would take to read even the bare details of the game.

All was revealed with the last delivery of the 21st over of Bangladesh’s innings, when Farhaan Behardien skipped in to bowl to Soumya Sarkar, whose heaved edge soared high into the night sky directly behind the batsman.

Quinton de Kock turned and set off after the descending ball as Faf du Plessis and Kagiso Rabada steamed towards the point where it would, surely, be caught. It wasn’t.

Du Plessis and Rabada were less than a metre apart and much closer than that to the ball when it fell to earth with an apologetic plop.

SA dropped the ball in every sense on Sunday. They were boring with the bat and bored with the ball, and Bangladesh’s hitherto hidden tigers pounced to win by seven wickets and square the series going into what is now the decider in Chittagong on Wednesday.

Behardien consulted the big book of cricket cliches to try and explain what had gone wrong: “There were a few soft dismissals … Things never went our way … It was Bangladesh’s day.”

This is what happens when one team is so much better than the other. That team is still SA. Their problem on Sunday was that allowed themselves to believe it.

SA were dismissed for 160 in 46 overs, their lowest total against Bangladesh and their worst effort batting first since England bowled them out for 119 in November, 2009. Excluding Sunday’s game, that was 106 ODIs ago.

Du Plessis, Rilee Rossouw, David Miller and JP Duminy all got out to strokes that suggested they would rather be watching the men’s final at Wimbledon. Or that they hadn’t bothered studying the pitch. Or that they were certain someone else would score the runs SA would need to post a competitive total.

That not done, SA’s bowlers performed as if they, too, were in a hurry to see how Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer were getting on.

The bowlers’ major issue was their insistence on what might be called a Goldilocks and the Three Bears length – either too short or too full, just right not nearly enough.

The exceptions were Behardien, who gritted it out grimly for his 36, and Rabada, who roared in with eyes, ears, nostrils and everything else flared to remove Tamim Iqbal and Litton Das in his first two overs.

Rabada also managed to give Tamim a send-off noisy enough to prompt the intervention of the umpires. Then he smacked Litton a nasty blow on the glove. But reality, and with it Bangladesh’s march to victory with 22.2 overs remaining, soon set in like a toothache.

The home side got there on the back of a stand of 135 between Sarkar and Mahmudullah, an ODI record for Bangladesh against SA for any wicket.

If SA were even half the team on Sunday that they were on Friday, when they blew Bangladesh away in all departments to win the first ODI by eight wickets, they could have caught the end of the Wimbledon final without having to think too hard about Wednesday’s game.

Instead, a tiebreaker looms. Anyone for redemption?

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