The quality of the performance will be as important as the result when the Proteas face Bangladesh at the Oval on Sunday, writes JON CARDINELLI.
England thrashed the Proteas by 104 runs in the opening game of the tournament on Thursday. The result was expected, the margin of victory less so.
The Proteas fought hard with the ball, yet only managed to limit England to 311. Quinton de Kock and Rassie van der Dussen fought hard with the bat, yet the collective failed to produce more than one partnership in excess of 50 runs.
Faf du Plessis and his charges should be looking to prove a point against Bangladesh on Sunday. A win as well as an improved performance – especially with the bat – will certainly boost their chances ahead of a challenging clash with India next Wednesday.
The Proteas may be without Dale Steyn for the next two games. If South Africa’s premier fast bowler recovers from a shoulder injury in time, he will surely be considered for selection.
There may be changes regardless of Steyn’s availability. The selectors will have some tough calls to make with regards to the top-six batsmen and the overall balance of the XI.
David Miller was omitted from the team for the first game against England. One would expect the powerful left-handed batsman to return in the wake of that poor showing. One of Aiden Markram or JP Duminy may have to sit out.
Will Ottis Gibson persist with Dwaine Pretorius, or will he favour another quick bowler in Chris Morris? The former failed with the bat against England, and was largely ineffective with the ball.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh will be hoping to field a full-strength side.
Skipper Mashrafe Mortaza sustained a hamstring injury in the recent practice match against India, which Bangladesh lost by 95 runs. Mohammad Saifuddin (back), Mustafizur Rahman (calf) and Mahmudullah (shoulder) have all struggled with injuries recently. Rubel Hossain and Shakib Al Hasan are also carrying niggles.
READ: Predicting the starting XI vs Bangladesh
The Proteas appeared surprised by conditions at the Oval on Thursday. England – through Jofra Archer and Mark Wood – got the ball to bounce on a relatively flat deck and managed to trouble the South African batsmen.
The Proteas will take a few lessons into the next game against Bangladesh. Du Plessis juggled his bowlers well on Thursday, but will be looking for a more potent performance in the middle overs.
Good weather has been forecast for Sunday. Du Plessis opted to bowl first against England on Thursday, and it will be interesting to see if he persists with this approach if he is given a choice on Sunday.
The make-up of the bowling lineup, and more specifically who shares the workload of the fifth bowler, will always be a talking point. South Africa did well against England in the sense that Pretorius, Duminy and Markram combined for figures of 0-72 in 12 overs.
The batting is South Africa’s primary concern, though. More will be expected of the Proteas’ senior men in this game. The result of the game against Bangladesh probably won’t hinge on Hashim Amla and Du Plessis’ contributions, and yet both will want to take some confidence into the clash against India.
PLAYER TO WATCH
De Kock scored 68 off 74 against England. He may have cracked on to a century if not for a mental lapse that saw him caught at backward square leg.
De Kock must look to cash in against a limited Bangladesh bowling attack. A strong partnership at the top of the order with Amla should set the Proteas up for a big, morale-boosting win.