Proteas cruise to Cape Town winGeorge Roberts |
Half a decade ago, to switch on your television set and find the team batting were 34-3 would quickly cause you to build up a typical mental picture. Around ten overs would have likely to been bowled and the struggling batsmen would be repairing the early damage done by the new ball. Alas, typical thinking is no longer the order of the day, while restructuring generally means reducing the amount of slog-swept sixes from three to just the one an over. Twenty20 has arrived.
34-3 was Bangladesh’s score when I jabbed the red button on the remote late this afternoon. That they had only faced 16 balls at that point demonstrated the hyperdriven carnage that this new form of cricket produces. South Africa meanwhile eased themselves (justifiably) to their target of 145 with seven deliveries to spare, with the buffalo-shouldered Justin Kemp securing the match in style with a thumping straight six.
Put into bat on a cold evening in Cape Town, Bangladesh lost opener Nazimuddin for a first-ball duck early on, but that did not seem to deter the rest of the top order for engaging in an entertaining form of hara-kiri. Aftab Ahmed, the number three, took a mere two balls to get his eye in before smashing his next three from Makhaya Ntini for six, six, four. Mohammad Ashraful was even more audacious: he lifted his first over square-leg for six, his second was scooped signature-style for four to fine-leg, his third could only be spooned to mid-on to give Shaun Pollock swift revenge.
When Aftab lost his off-stump to Morne Morkel’s inswinger and departed for a 14-ball 36, Bangladesh found themselves 58-4 and turned a little belatedly to a more cautious approach. Shakib Al Hasan and Alok Kapali, who crept to 14 from 35 deliveries, played at damage limitation for a short while before the former was run-out and Bangladesh stuttered. 96-5 after ten overs, they could add just half as much in the final ten as Johannes van der Wath, Vernon Philander and the Morkel brothers – Morne and Albie – bowled 14 overs between them for just 63. In contrast, the supposed spearheads, Pollock and Ntini saw their 33 deliveries disappear for 71. Useful contributions took Bangladesh to 144 from 19.3 overs, Pollock finishing the innings with a sublime yorker to remove Syed Rasel.
In reply, South Africa batted with selective aggression, led by Smith’s serene – and six-less – knock of 41. The early wickets necessary for Bangladesh to apply any real kind of pressure failed to materialise, allowing the spinners to be milked around the outfield with considerable ease. In truth, the match assumed its dead rubber identity: with both sides already qualified for the second stage, South Africa were content to cruise to victory while Bangladesh lacked the incentive to attack with any conviction.
Smith and Jean-Paul Duminy, opening in place of the rested Herschelle Gibbs, killed the game with a first-wicket partnership of 65, before Albie Morkel’s 41 from 29 deliveries all but sealed the win. The Bangladeshi spinners were again for the most part economical, the exception being Ashraful, whose mixture of offspin and legbreaks served up a queue of juicy half-volleys. If Bangladesh are to progress any further in this tournament, the fifth bowling option must perform adequately enough to give the front-liners enough support to attack and create pressure.
Both sides are in action again tomorrow at the same venue. In Group F, Bangladesh will be aiming to emulate Zimbabwe by upsetting Australia, while in Group E a confident South Africa will take on England.
Bangladesh 144 all out (19.3 overs)
Aftab Ahmed 36, Shakib Al Hasan 19, Farhad Reza 19
Shaun Pollock 3-40, Morne Morkel 2-21, Vernon Philander 2-23
South Africa 146-3 (18.5 overs)
Graeme Smith 41, Jean-Paul Duminy 36, Albie Morkel 41
Abdur Razzak 2-26, Shakib Al Hasan 1-28
South Africa won by 7 wickets
Cricket Web Man of the Match: Morne Morkel