TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
SA have been shot in this movie before. As recently as last Saturday, in fact, when the monsoon put paid to the fourth day of the first test against Bangladesh in Chittagong. And the fifth day …
On Friday, the same thing happened to day two of the second test in Chittagong. Except that it had a different name. This time, blame it on cyclone Komen, which by Friday afternoon had hammered south Asia viciously enough to have killed 33 people.
But there is good news. Sort of.
In the seven days that ended at midnight on Thursday Dhaka had been lashed by 132.3 millimetres of rain. Which is a drop in the bucket compared to the metre of the stuff – 1051.2 millimetres, to be precise – that all but submerged Chittagong in the same period. So, it could be worse.
Friday’s forecast for Dhaka promised 100% chance of rain, and the weather bureau was proved correct emphatically. Saturday’s prediction of 90% is thus an improvement. On Sunday, it’s down to 80%. Monday’s minuscule 40% – if it comes to pass – will make Friday’s deluge look like a day in the desert.
Of course, this is refusing to believe the glass is anything less than half-full. Trouble is, finding a glass that wasn’t overflowing in Dhaka on Friday was impossible.
The upshot is that the teams have now been denied three of the seven days of test cricket they should have played by now. Actually, the first test amounted to 221 overs of play – not quite two-and-a-half days.
And all the while SA are champing at their pad straps, eager to prove that the second and third one-day internationals – which, somehow, they lost and with them the series – were aberrations.
Trouble is, they were also shaded for too much of the first test for that theory to be swallowed whole. But they had the better of Thursday’s play by some distance.
“Test match time! Amped!” Dale Steyn tweeted before the start of the match, and well he might have. Steyn taking his 400th test wicket was always going to frame the bigger picture, but reducing Bangladesh to 246/8 at stumps represented a decent day’s work.
Steyn had Tamim Iqbal taken at first slip in the fifth over, but that was SA’s only success of the morning session. JP Duminy removed Mominul Haque and Imrul Kayes in the space of 10 deliveries after lunch to hike the visitors’ hopes of making inroads. But, by tea, Bangladesh were standing firm on 154/3.
However, with the ball reverse swinging like a barbed hook and the pitch already deteriorating, Steyn added two more scalps. There were also wickets for Dean Elgar and Morne Morkel, and another for Duminy.
Those five sticks went down for 92 runs in the 33.1 overs bowled in the third session. Not before time, SA were walking the talk of being the No. 1 ranked test team.
But best they get their gumboots out if they want to continue that journey in this match, it seems.