We take a look at some of the key battles to be expected in the clash between the Proteas and Bangladesh at the Oval on Sunday, writes KHALID MOHIDIN.
The Proteas aim to bounce back from a heavy 104-run defeat against England in the World Cup opener. The result was pretty much downplayed by a number of Proteas players, namely Quinton de Kock and Rassie van der Dussen. Ironically, both players never found it cumbersome against the World Cup favourites and both notched up half-centuries. They will once again be key players in the match against Bangladesh.
The Tigers are quite a difficult team to analyse, in fact, you never if the Tigers will come out roaring or tamed. Will it be a complete walk over? or will they put up a stubborn fight?
It is all dependable on their star players, and we can presume that with this being a World Cup, all of them will be hungry to prove themselves in what will be their first game of the campaign.
Taking a squizz through the probable lineups, here are some of the exciting battles we could expect.
Shakib Al Hasan vs Quinton de Kock
De Kock seems to have worked hard on his ability to play spin. His time in the IPL most likely was a key factor in his development in this area. He and Rassie van der Dussen looked well equipped against England’s two spinners, Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali, but both will now face a more difficult opponent in Shakib. The all-rounder is ranked No 1 in the world, but for his bowling specifically, he sits No 21 on the ODI rankings. It will be interesting to see if Bangladesh attempt the same strategy as the Proteas did and open with their spinner at the Oval, so we can see this battle between De Kock and Shakib commence instantly.
Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi vs Soumya Sarkar and Tamim Iqbal
Ideally a middle-order batsman, Soumya is an exciting prospect for Bangladesh. In the recent ODIs against the West Indies and Ireland as well as in the warm-up fixture against India, the 26-year-old left-handed batsman was given a chance to open the batting. He impressed and most likely will partner Tamim Iqbal at the top of the order. Generally a quick-scoring player, it will be an interesting test for Rabada and Ngidi, if the pair open the bowling on Sunday. It is always a little trickier task for right-handed seamers to take on left-handed batsmen, but it will be the perfect test for the young opening pair.
Imran Tahir vs Mushfiqur Rahim
Tahir is undoubtedly the Proteas best spinner. Mushfiqur is one of Bangladesh’s best players of spin. With Mushfiqur coming in at No 4 and Tahir operating predominantly in the middle overs, their paths are bound to cross. The 31-year-old batsman has 205 ODIs to his name and because of his short stature plays the sweep quite beautifully. This battle could be a game changer for either side.
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