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Bangladesh under pressure as South Africa aim for the No. 2 spot

1xC Team


Big picture: Crucial game for Bangladesh

Who wants to face the team that smashed 399 in their previous game? And at the venue they did it too. Bangladesh have that privilege, as they take on a South African unit fresh – or are they, given the searing Mumbai heat? – from their dismantling of defending champions England on Saturday.

With three wins in four games, South Africa are comfortably placed at No. 3 in the points table. And their thumping margins of victories – 102 runs against Sri Lanka, 134 against Australia, and 229 against England – have earned them the best net run rate in the tournament.

South Africa have scored 300-plus every time they have batted first in this World Cup – with their top order laying a strong platform for a powerful finish, of which Heinrich Klaasen and Marco Jansen provided a devastating example at the Wankhede.

Their pace-heavy bowling attack – comprising Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Marco Jansen, Gerald Coetzee, along with the left-arm spin of Keshav Maharaj – dismissed the line-ups of Sri Lanka, Australia and England. The only time they fell short in both disciplines was when they bowled first against Netherlands.

While South Africa are well placed to push for a semi-final spot, Bangladesh are struggling to be a serious contender, having lost three games – to England, New Zealand and India – after an opening victory against Afghanistan. They are one of five teams stuck on one win after four matches, and another defeat will almost certainly extinguish their flickering chances of qualification.

Mushfiqur Rahim has been their best batter, with the likes of Najmul Hossain Shanto, Towhid Hridoy and Mehidy Hasan Miraz unable to make significant contributions in the middle order. Tanzid Hasan scored a fifty against India after a tough start to his international career, while Litton Das has been hot and cold at the top of the order. Whether Shakib Al Hasan, who missed their previous game against India with a niggle, is passed fit to play is critical, as Bangladesh will be without the injured Taskin Ahmed once again.

Form guide

South Africa WLWWW (last five ODIs, most recent first)

Bangladesh LLLWL

In the spotlight: Klaasen and Mushfiqur

Heinrich Klaasen will undoubtedly be a hot topic at the Bangladesh team meeting after his 109 off 67 balls against England at the Wankhede, an innings that was played in the gruelling afternoon heat and humidity of Mumbai. A late-bloomer in the South African setup, Klaasen is having his best year in ODIs, having made 725 runs at 55.76 in 2023. His strike rate of 139.43 makes him one of the most destructive batters at the World Cup. After not fielding during England’s chase, will Klaasen have recovered to have enough gas in the tank against Bangladesh?

Amid Bangladesh’s batting gloom, Mushfiqur Rahim has emerged as their top scorer and most dependable batter. He has been batting at No. 6 this year, which seems a bit too low for an in-form batter in a misfiring middle-order. The batting line-up, especially in Shakib’s absence, could do with Mushfiqur at No 4 but he is unlikely to move up the order.

Team news: Will Bavuma and Shakib play?

South Africa were led by Aiden Markram against England because Temba Bavuma was not fit. If he’s recovered by Tuesday he will come back in for his replacement Reeza Hendricks, who scored 85 off 75 balls against England. The decision will be made on the morning of the game.

South Africa (probable): 1 Quinton de Kock (wk), 2 Temba Bavuma (capt)/Reeza Hendricks, 3 Rassie van der Dussen, 4 Aiden Markram, 5 Heinrich Klaasen, 6 David Miller, 7 Marco Jansen, 8 Gerald Coetzee, 9 Keshav Maharaj, 10 Kagiso Rabada, 11 Lungi Ngidi

Shakib missed the game against India with a left quadriceps injury but he said he trained without issues on Sunday and is likely to be fit for the game. Taskin remains unavailable because of a shoulder injury.

Bangladesh (probable): 1 Tanzid Hasan, 2 Litton Das, 3 Najmul Hossain Shanto, 4 Shakib Al Hasan (capt), 5 Towhid Hridoy, 6 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 7 Mehidy Hasan Miraz, 8 Mahmudullah, 9 Hasan Mahmud, 10 Shoriful Islam, 11 Mustafizur Rahman

Pitch and conditions: Another sweltering day

Expect another hot afternoon with temperatures in the mid-30 celsius with high humidity. Jos Buttler conceded he had perhaps made a mistake by fielding first in such conditions on Saturday, so expect the team that wins the toss to bat first on a flat Wankhede pitch and wear out the opposition by the time the chase begins.

Stats and trivia

  • Bangladesh have won their last two World Cup matches against South Africa, in Providence (2007) and at The Oval (2019).
  • Klaasen’s strike-rate of 147.95 this year is the second highest among batters who have scored more than 700 runs in ODIs.
  • In 2022, Bangladesh won an away ODI series against South Africa for the first time

Quotes

“We haven’t done particularly well against them in the past, so that’s extra motivation for us to come out and replicate what was a good performance against England.”
Aiden Markram on South Africa losing three of their last four ODIs to Bangladesh and having a 2-2 head-to-head record in World Cups

“I really don’t think there’s any need to motivate players in the World Cup. Everyone is well motivated and trying hard. We have had some individual performances, so if we can pool it together, we can have a good result.”
Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan on team morale ahead of the game against South Africa

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84



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