Athletic

Bangladesh eye level Test series against South Africa

Putting behind their ignominious defeat in the first Test, Bangladesh are keen to hit back in style as they take on the hosts South Africa for the second and final game of the two-match series tomorrow (Friday) at Port Elizabeth.

The match begins at 2 PM (Bangladesh Time). Bangladesh lost the first Test by 220 runs after being wrapped up for 53 runs in their fourth innings, which was their second lowest total in a Test innings, behind their 43 against West Indies in 2018.

Bangladesh came into the first Test high on confidence, following their first ever Test win against New Zealand and a 2-1 win in an ODI series on South African soil.

But despite being wrapped up ignominiously, Bangladesh refused to give up the hopes, knowing that they could have won the match if a few things would have gone in their favour. They in fact battled with the home side neck-to-neck until the last half-an-hour on the fourth day.

South Africa consigned Bangladesh to defeat with their spin attack, something which is rare for a country known for its fast bowling resources. Though South Africa didn't get their entire first choice pace attack, no one even imagined their spinners-Simon Harmer and Keshav Maharaj stood tall to give Bangladesh a nightmare.

It was so disappointing for Bangladesh that captain Mominul Haque said it was a crime to give spinners wicket on foreign soil.

Maharaj and Harmer, who played his first Test since 2015 combined took 14 Bangladeshi wickets-the second-most by South African spinners in a home Test and the most since readmission.

Bangladesh's fourth innings performance was so much disappointing that it overshadowed a wonderful bowling performance from their fast bowlers. It was only the fourth time Bangladesh took 20 wickets overseas, and the second time in the last three Tests when the fast bowlers have taken more than 10 wickets in the match.

Bangladesh's three-pronged pace attack-Syed Khaled Ahmed, Ebadot Hossain and Taskin Ahmed, who fought off a shoulder injury did fairly well and outsmarted South African pace bowlers.

Allan Donald, Bangladesh's fast bowling coach who is overseeing the South Africa tour as his first assignment, said that if the pacers could continue this performance they will have great chance to make something amazing in the second Test in Port Elizabeth, which will favour the fast bowlers largely unlike the Durban.

"I think the Bangladesh seamers can be very proud of the way they conducted themselves in the first Test. I think we were feeling our way into it a little bit. Once we settled down, it was very good. We spoke about bowling in partnerships. It was a fantastic performance from all the seamers. The way Khaled got into the team, the way Ebadot bowled," Donald said during Bangladesh's first practice session in Port Elizabeth.

"It was even better in the second innings. I felt we bowled like a Test unit. The run-rate went down from 3.7 to 2.5. The way we took wickets at crucial times in that second innings to restrict South Africa to 273. I am very proud of the seamers. They kept coming all day long to keep the pressure up. If you are looking for a recipe for success, it doesn't change here in St George's Park."

Bangladesh will be without the service of Taskin Ahmed as he was ruled out of the second Test and had already returned to the country due to his shoulder injury.

Opener Shadman Islam who made single digit score in both innings is almost sure to be axed. He in fact found a place in the first Test due to the sudden stomach upset of Tamim Iqbal. The senior opener however will return to the second game to open the innings with Mahmudul Hasan Joy who became first Bangladeshi batter to hit a Test century against South Africa.

Squad

Bangladesh: Mominul Haque (captain), Tamim Iqbal, Mahmudul Hasan Joy, Najmul Hossain Shanto, Mushfiqur Rahim, Shakib Al Hasan, Liton Das (wk), Yasir Ali, Taijul Islam, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Taskin Ahmed, Abu Jayed, Ebadot Hossain, Shoriful Islam, Shohidul Islam, Khaled Ahmed, Shadman Islam, Nurul Hasan

South Africa: Dean Elgar (captain), Temba Bavuma (vice-captain), Daryn Dupavillon, Sarel Erwee, Simon Harmer, Keshav Maharaj, Wiaan Mulder, Duanne Olivier, Keegan Petersen, Ryan Rickelton, Lutho Sipamla, Glenton Stuurman, Kyle Verreynne (wk), Lizaad Williams, Khaya Zondo

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)