Kagiso Rabada, Rassie van der Dussen and Andile Phehlukwayo have been identified as three key players for the Proteas as they face Bangladesh at the Oval on Sunday, writes KHALID MOHIDIN.
We saw how the Oval pitch behaved in the World Cup opener between the Proteas and England. At first, England were fully in control while the Proteas were banging in short, and occasionally wide, deliveries. But once their young seam trio figured out the strip they started to contain the dangerous English batsmen and struck at vital times. Now with a little bit of knowledge on how the Oval wicket behaves, there is no doubt that Bangladesh will find Rabada difficult to handle. The 23-year-old has fond memories against the Tigers. He made his debut against them in 2015 and when he took his best ever ODI figures of 6-16. Out of all the teams in the World Cup, Bangladesh are the side he has his best average of 16.76 against. His partnership with Lungi Ngidi up front will be crucial whether the Proteas bowl first or second.
Rassie van der Dussen
Van der Dussen can do nothing wrong in a Proteas jersey. Against England, he looked in control and was vital to supporting Quinton de Kock, who is undoubtedly the Proteas’ best form batsman. I opted not to go with De Kock as one of the key players against Bangladesh and rather picked Van der Dussen, because he was our best player against England’s spinners Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali. He hit four fours and one six, all of them coming against England’s spin duo. With Bangladesh’s best player by a mile – Shakib Al Hasan – being the No 1 spinning all-rounder in ODI cricket, the battle between the two will be enticing. If Van der Dussen can have the same effect against Shakib as he had against Rashid and Ali, the Proteas will surely have eliminated a major threat.
Phehlukwayo looked good with ball in hand in the opener. He played a vital role in turning the game, by dismissing Jason Roy on 54, which sparked Rabada to dismiss Joe Root an over later. He was the Proteas’ most economical seamer and it seemed as though his natural line and length suited the Oval’s conditions perfectly. He also has a decent record against Bangladesh – five wickets in three matches – and will be vital to stem Bangladesh’s middle order, which is where most of their batting strength comes from. With the bat, he showed good signs against England’s spinners with all three of his fours coming off Rashid and Ali. He was, however, dismissed by Rashid but only because of an incredible acrobatic catch from Ben Stokes whose one-handed snatch stopped a ball that should have sailed over his head. Like Van der Dussen, the Protas should be able to trust Phehlukwayo’s role in stopping Shakib.
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