Bengal Tigers in South Africa

Bangladesh to feature in one-off warm-up game from ThursdaySaleque Sufi
Bengal tigers oozing in confidence with back to back drawn (1-1) Test series against Australia at home and Sri Lanka on tour is now on a teasing and testing full series of 2 Tests, ODI and T20I series in South Africa.

A new Bangladesh even without its ace all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan holidaying from Test duty of the nation may prove hard nut to crack strong South Africa in all formats of the game.

Bangladesh ranks 9 and South Africa 2 in accordance with recent ICC rankings. Playing in a complete alien condition for any team from South Asian sub-continent is always a huge challenge.

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But this fearless Tiger squad can do and undo anything anywhere. No one would write off Bangladesh now in any match anywhere.

ICC Test Ranking (9th September 2017)
Serial No Team             Matches      Points Ratings
1             India             36              125
2             South Africa   31              110
3             England         43              105
4             New Zealand  32              97
5             Australia        34              97
6             Pakistan         31              93
7             Sri Lanka       36              90
8             West Indies    30              75
9             Bangladesh    20              70
10           Zimbabwe      10              0

Rankings often mislead the intensity of the contest. A team like Bangladesh does not get as much opportunity of playing tests as most other countries.

During the period under consideration Bangladesh played at least 10 tests less than any country above it in test ranking. Still then Bangladesh winning tests and earning drawn series against 3rd, 5th and 7th ranked England, Australia and Sri Lanka were commendable.

This writer would try and assess opportunities of Bangladesh in the two tests against South Africa holistically.

Bangladesh just completed playing long awaited two match test series at home against strong Australia. Playing brilliantly on a turning track under hot humid condition at the Sher-e –Bangla National stadium Dhaka, Bangladesh recorded a historic test win riding on brilliant all round performance of ICC top all-rounder Shakib and high quality batting of Tamim Iqbal.

On a flat track in Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium, Chittagong Bangladesh batted equally poor especially in the important second innings squandering golden opportunity of winning series or might even white washing Australia.

Lot can be discussed about squad selection, playing eleven selection, batting order and other matters. But one must also not forget Bangladesh was up against a team of super athletes well coached and totally committed professionals.

Australia in cricket can turn around from any situation. Bangladesh is not used to playing back to back tests against top teams in grueling contest. The wickets they played were even alien to the tigers. Game plan and strategy were not understood.

But one thing was very clear that Bangladesh team panicked while batting in the second innings and made Nathan Lyon a monster .Bangladesh was expected to play much better against off spin on home wickets.

In a gist Australia targeted three players Tamim, Shakib and Imrul in the second test and were proved successful. Bangladesh let three Aussies Warner, Smith and Lyon perform. Such an opportunity against Australia may not reappear soon again.

Matches Schedule
Date                                       Match Details                                              Time (BST)
28 September -2 October 2017 First Test Senwise Park , Potchefstroom         2PM
6 October -10 October 2017      Second Test , Mangaung Oval, Bloemfontein  2PM
15 October Sunday                   First ODI , Diamond Oval, Kimberley            2PM
18 October Wednesday              Second ODI, Boland Park, Paarl                   2PM
22 October Sunday                    Third ODI ,  Buffalo Park, East London          2PM
26 October Thursday                  First T20, Mangaung Oval, Bloemfontein       10 PM
29 October Sunday                    Second T20 , Senwes Park, Potchefstroom     6:30 PM

Bangladesh Test Squad:
Mushfiqur Rahim (captain), Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Imrul Kayes, Sabbir Rahman, Mahmudullah, Liton Das, Mehidy Hasan, Taijul Islam, Taskin Ahmed, Mehidy Hasan, Taijul Islam, Mustafizur Rahman, Rubel Hossain, Shafiul Islam, Taskin Ahmed, Subashis Roy, Monimul Haque.

In view of the recent form and fitness and in consideration of wicket, condition and opposition the squad can be questioned only for not including Nasir Hossain in the team especially when Shakib was granted leave of absence. No one would compare Nasir Hossain as all-rounder with Super Shakib… But he is a genuine all-rounder – good late order batsman and more than useful off spinner and brilliant fielder

Is Shakib Overstressed?
Bangladesh play the least amount of tests among the major test playing nations. Test cricket is the ultimate frontier for any leading cricketer. Shakib being the number one all-rounder in all formats including test will be greatly missed. There is no report of any injury.

If he is really tired and jaded of playing too much cricket he must not play BPL. But being Icon of BEXIMCO owned Dhaka Dynamites his BPL engagement appears to be more important for few than representing Bangladesh in test against South Africa.

No one is above the nation. Sorry we cannot support the most important player giving a pass to very challenging test series.

Still Bangladesh Can Take The Fight To Opponents
It will be difficult but not impossible .Changed Bangladesh can still manage to fight .Seniors like Tamim, Mahmudullah and Mushfique have to take additional responsibilities.

Mominul, Kayes, Litton Das, Sabbir and Miraz have to bat sensibly like true test batsmen. Dale Steyn not playing, Philander and Morris getting injured may make tasks easier for Bangladesh batsmen.

But on expected green top pacey wickets Morkel, Rabada and Parnell may be equally difficult if batsmen do not apply. Tamim is in prolific form. His trusted partner Kayes should open innings with him. We would not suggest playing Soumya in the top order.

If he is to be played at all he may play at six. But Litton K Das should play as an additional batsman. He should also relieve Mushfiqur from wicket keeping. Mushfiqur is the premiere batsman in the team.

Against very strong South Africa in their own fort he has to implement team strategy, marshal his resources to the best of the ability. Moreover, technically correct batsman Litton will provide depth and stability of late middle order.

Mominul, Mahmudullah and Mushfiqur should be slotted at 3, 4 and 5. Sabbir and Litton would be better at 6 and 7. It will be a great challenge choosing one from Miraz and Taijul I would prefer Miraz and field three pacers Mustafiz, Taskin and Shafiul.

Wicket will have grass cover and may have additional bounce. Morkel and Rabada may unleash chin music. If they can test our skills against short lifting deliveries on lively surface why Mustsafiz and Taskin cannot return compliment.

Miraz would be the only front line spinner. If Mominul can bowl a few overs. I would need additional batsman and Bangladesh must appear with three quick.

South Africa is a formidable opposition for any sub continental team on own soil. But Bangladesh has enough weapon in the armory to take the fight to the opponents.


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