The ‘best bowling side in the competition’ gave their batsmen a World Cup record to chase for victory, which proved beyond them as they slumped to a second successive defeat, writes GARY LEMKE.
Beaten by 104 runs in their opening game of the tournament to hosts and favourites England was a poor result for the Proteas, but they were expected to bounce back against Bangladesh, at the same venue (The Oval) where they had slumped to 207 in chasing 312 to win.
Conditions on Sunday were similar and so was par, around 310, and for the second time captain Faf du Plessis called correctly at the toss and inserted the opposition. However, it was a limp bowling performance, with questionable tactics, and a fielding display that was a pale shadow of the brilliance South Africa have shown down the years.
Both Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi carried the mindset – or instructions – to treat the sub-continent openers with such contempt that they could run through the top-order with a barrage of short-pitched bowling, similar to how West Indies had skittled Pakistan for 105 a few days earlier.
However, both were wasteful with the new white ball and an indication of how short their bowling was can be seen in that only two balls out of the first 60 would have hit the stumps (a full 10 overs, by which stage Bangladesh had moved to 65-1). That removed bowled or lbw out the equation in the opening 10 overs.
Ngidi, whose pace at around 145km/h was at least 5km/h quicker than against England, hobbled off with a hamstring injury after four overs had leaked 34 runs, and it took the introduction of Andile Phehlukwayo in the ninth over to show the Proteas the error of their ways on this Oval pitch.
He struck with the second ball he bowled, that to Tamim Iqbal and also bowled a maiden over, the only one South Africa’s vaunted attack – ‘the best in the competition’ – have sent down in 100 overs spanning two matches and after 371 runs had been scored against them.
England had totalled 311 in their 50 overs and it had seemed a par performance, given that Du Plessis had sent them in, but Bangladesh somehow bettered that display, to leave the Proteas winless after two matches and facing India some 72 hours after this defeat.
Bangladesh won all the mini-battles on the day, too many to mention. However, they include bossing the 10-over periods from 1-10, 11-20 and 21-30 and then got to 200 in the 32nd over; by contrast England had reached that milestone in their 35th over against South Africa and, when chasing later, the Proteas also got to 200 in the 35th over against Bangladesh.
They eventually finished on 308-8 to go down by 21 runs, the number 21 being significant. With the ball, South Africa conceded 21 extras, including 12 wides. The best bowling side in the world shouldn’t be bowling a dozen wides.
And, in the field, there seemed to be a lack of energy associated with South African teams. Even Rabada was rattled on the boundary, misjudging a catch at a crucial stage in the closing overs which yielded 54 runs off the final 24 balls, Morris conceding 29 off his final two overs, Phehlukwayo 11 off his last over and Rabada 14 runs in the final over of the innings.
In setting their total of 330 Bangladesh reached the highest score ever in their ODI history, Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim put on 142 runs for the third wicket, their country’s highest-ever World Cup partnership, and they had set South Africa a target that would have resulted in a record World Cup chase were it to be successful.
South Africa have been determined to fly under the radar in this 2019 version, given they’ve arrived at previous tournaments as trophy favourites. However, given their two defeats so far, by 104 runs to England and 21 runs to Bangladesh, one wonders if their flight left OR Tambo or sent a bunch of impostors.
The management have been quick to refuse to answer any questions relating to the C-word and it was only during this tournament that Du Plessis revealed that Dale Steyn was ’60 percent fit’ when he was selected. He has missed the opening two matches thus far, while Ngidi hasn’t looked 100 percent fit either. That in itself suggests that the Proteas aren’t the best bowling unit in the competition – and in failing to chase down 311 and 330, it’s clear that they aren’t the best batting team in the competition either.
Perhaps South Africa were complacent. Trying to ‘bomb’ out the Bangladesh top-order on a good patting pitch which seems to be more effective for bowlers who take pace off the ball, wasn’t the best tactic. But, from a Proteas perspective, the lack of energy in the field and too many ‘free’ boundaries with the ball in hand, always left their batsmen with a mountain to climb.
It was soon apparent they would come up short, after being 14 runs behind at the comparative (1-10 over stage), 19 runs behind after 20 overs, 31 runs behind after 30 overs, and 16 runs behind after 40 overs. Eventually, they couldn’t even finish strongly as a Bangladeshi team who were full value for their upset victory.
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