SA v Ban

Published on October 16th, 2017 | by Suraj Choudhari

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Mushfiqur exorcises ghost of Test series

Bangladesh were completely outplayed in Test series, being clean swept in two-match series by South Africa. There were thoughts of the potent Bangladeshi side bouncing back in the One-Day International (ODI) series, but South Africa squandered a lot of hopes with an emphatic performance in the series opener at Diamond Oval.

South Africa continued their good run and carried the momentum from Test format. They registered an awe-inspiring victory at Diamond Oval, which boasted of scintillating records. Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla came out all guns blazing to help South Africa gun down the target with all 10 wickets intact.

It’s very difficult for a team to step up after being whitewashed in the Test series. Their confidence has been shattered and need to restart. It demands a lot. But ODIs is also a different ball game altogether and Bangladesh still have an opportunity of making a comeback.

At Diamond Oval, Bangladesh got it right at the toss and elected to bat first. The surface looked conducive enough for batting and Bangladeshi openers did get a steady start, but failed to convert into a big one. Both the openers were dismissed inside 14 overs and Bangladesh’s two most-experienced batsmen – Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur, were at the crease.

Mushfiqur and Shakib steadied the ship, but the latter floundered after a cautious start. Mushfiqur continued his good run and kept the scoreboard ticking. He pierced the gaps and pounced on deliveries that were pitched in his zone.

Mahmudullah joined in and did well in setting the tempo, but once again a batsman was dismissed after a solid start. Mushfiqur stood like a rock at the other end and took on the dominant South African attack with immense confidence. He cruised towards his century and stepped up when his team needed him the most.

When Mushfiqur brought up his fifth ODI ton, he inscribed his name in the history of Bangladesh cricket by becoming the first batsman from his country to have scored a century against South Africa. His knock contained two sixes and 11 boundaries as Bangladesh posted a competitive 278 on the board. He made utmost use of the batting conditions and didn’t let it go after a fifty or 60.

Mushfiqur ensured he converted a good start into a much-needed hundred. In the Test series, a lot of Bangladeshi batsmen threw it away after a solid start and failed to get daddy hundreds. On this occasion as well, five Bangladeshi batsmen got starts but none barring Mushfiqur managed to convert.

Rahim now has five ODI tons under his belt and all of them came while batting at 4. His unbeaten 110 is his second-highest score in ODIs. Mushfiqur has been prolific while batting at 4. He certainly likes to bid his time out in the middle and then accelerate. He is well capable of building an innings and then take on the bowling attack.

Mushfiqur averages just over 39 at four and has garnered 2147 runs in 60 ODI innings at the said position. He has done a commendable job for Bangladesh while batting at 4  whereas he is yet to register a ton while batting at other positions. He certainly made an immediate impact and should continue to bat at the said position.

Mushfiqur had a tough time in the Test series, where he attracted enormous criticism for his decisions as the skipper. But he left everything behind and started the ODI journey on a high in South Africa. It’s a massive hurdle to overcome and Mushfiqur seems to have done a fine job. This was a test of his character and he once again showed why he is among the best batsmen in Bangladesh. His performance will certainly infuse a lot of confidence in the out of order Bangladeshi side.

At the end of first innings, Bangladesh bowlers had something to fight for. But, South Africa turned out to be too hot to handle. Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock displayed some fine batsmanship and provided no room for error. This was the highest successful chase by any team without losing a wicket. The unbeaten 279-run stand between De Kock and Amla is now the third-highest opening stand in ODIs.

Bangladesh still have a long way to go in the series, they stand a good chance of bouncing back. But to do so, their batsmen will have to score big runs like Rahim did and bowlers need to chip wickets. They were absolutely outplayed in the first game and will have to step up in all the three departments to put up a fight.Mushfiqur, on the other hand, overcame a huge mental barrier and has got a solid start, he should look to carry the momentum in the remainder of the series.

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About the Author

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Suraj Choudhari is a freelance sports journalist. He is an avid follower of the game and played the sport at club level. With a radical understanding about the subtle nuances and intricacies of cricket, he tries to express it through paper and pen.



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