Shakib Al Hasan, Mustafizur Rahman and Mushfiqur Rahim are three players who pose significant threats to the Proteas as Bangladesh prepare to take on South Africa at the Oval on Sunday, writes KHALID MOHIDIN.
Shakib Al Hasan
Arguably the biggest asset to Bangladesh cricket, Shakib has proven himself with both bat and ball. Ranked the No 1 all-rounder in ODI cricket, the spinner and middle-order batsman is a crucial cog in the Bangladesh side. He hasn’t been very effective with the bat against South Africa scoring at an average just above 29, but with the ball, he has taken 12 wickets in 13 matches against the Proteas. The World Cup is, however, a different ball game. There are some players in the Proteas lineup who are known to have trouble facing spin, and if Shakib is on top form he will trouble the Proteas’ batters.
The 23-year-old seamer is ranked No 11 in the world and has built an impressive reputation for himself over the last year. He finished as the sixth-highest wicket-taker in 2018, taking 29 wickets in 18 matches. Being left-handed, he naturally possesses an x-factor quality and will be difficult to read. We saw how the Proteas struggled against Pakistan’s left-arm seamer Shaheen Afridi earlier in the year, and Mustafizur poses a similar threat. The Proteas need to be particularly wary of his off-cutter, which has become a go-to weapon for the medium-fast paceman.
The wicketkeeper-batsman is the highest ranked ODI batsman in the Bangladesh side at No 20. What makes him vastly important to his side is his experience, especially in World Cups, this being his fourth tournament for his country. A tournament average of 31.87 isn’t phenomenal, but with former Proteas batting coach Neil McKenzie as his advisor, the 31-year-old is likely to have a few tricks up his sleeves against the Proteas. He is known to be one of the better players of spin in the Bangladesh line up, and coming in at No 4, will most likely pose the biggest threat to the Proteas’ best bowler Imran Tahir.
Photo: Tharaka Basnayaka/NurPhoto/Getty Images