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Spirited Bangladesh eye history against inexperienced South Africa

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DURBAN: South Africa’s weakened Test squad presents another history-making opportunity for Bangladesh, who took the ODI leg 2-1, after having registered a maiden Test win in New Zealand earlier this year.

Two draws and ten defeats – Bangladesh’s Test record against South Africa is not inspiring. Away from home, they’ve lost each of the games, five by an innings, the other by 333 runs. However, all of that could carry little significance, as their recent form offers enough hope for a turnaround.

After all, here is a team that defeated the inaugural World Test Championship winners New Zealand in the first Test of the year by a comprehensive eight-wicket margin. Limited-overs success against Afghanistan at home was followed by a historic 2-1 triumph against the Proteas in the first leg of the ongoing tour. And the focus now shifts back to the red-ball format, with the first of two Tests scheduled to be played in Durban from Thursday, 31 March.

With the experienced Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan back in the Test fold, Bangladesh looks even more settled, and the duo’s ODI series exploits offer plenty of positivity. And will the ball the Tigers will look to Taskin Ahmed and Ebadot Hossain to replicate their recent fast-bowling success if they’re to upset the hosts.

South Africa, on the other hand, has experienced a relative slump after their inspiring success against India at home and a drawn Test series in New Zealand. That they’ll be without the services of the injured Anrich Nortje and five other IPL bound players, makes the task all the more challenging for skipper Dean Elgar.

The fast-bowling unit certainly lacks the experience without the services of Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, and Marco Jansen – each of whom had played their part in the series win over India. Lutho Sipamla and Duanne Olivier form the core of the seam attack, which comprises the uncapped group of Ryan Rickleton, Khaya Zondo, Lizaad Williams, and Daryn Dupavillon.

On the batting front, Dean Elgar and Temba Bavuma will once again be expected to lead the way, in absence of Aiden Markram and Rassie van der Dussen. The series also presents a great opportunity for young Keegan Petersen and the uncapped Khaya Zondo to make a mark.

South Africa is currently placed second in the ICC World Test Championship 2023 points table, and a series whitewash would help them inch closer to top-placed Australia. Bangladesh is placed eighth after their series defeat to Pakistan and a drawn one against the Blackcaps.

The two teams last faced off in Tests during Bangladesh’s tour of the country back in 2017-18, when the visitors were whitewashed 2-0. 

In the second of those Tests, played in Bloemfontein, Dean Elgar (113), Hashim Amla (132), Aiden Markram (143), and Faf du Plessis (135*) powered Proteas to a mammoth 573/4 declared after being put in.

Kagiso Rabada then bagged successive five-fors, as Bangladesh could only manage 147 and 172 across their two innings after being asked to follow on.

Liton Das’ 70 in the first innings was the lone half-century for the visitors in a crushing innings-and-254-run defeat.

Dean Elgar (South Africa captain): “What happened in the ODI series has hurt quite a lot of players. I wasn’t involved but I’m pretty hurt about the result. I’d like to think that’s fuelled us. Our hunger is going to be right up there. We know this Bangladesh side is not one of the old. They’re a new team who have changed their mindset with regards to how to play cricket in South Africa.”

Mominul Haque (Bangladesh captain): “We cannot think about the past like our win at Mount Maunganui or Zimbabwe and need to be focused on from day one to make sure that we can dominate for five days. I am confident of winning and as a captain all I want is a win. We have had to struggle for two to three years in Test cricket. We are a good one-day team but to do well in Tests we need to give and put in a lot of hard work going forward.”

South Africa squad: Dean Elgar (capt), Temba Bavuma (vice-capt), Daryn Dupavillon, Sarel Erwee, Simon Harmer, Keshav Maharaj, Wiaan Mulder, Duanne Olivier, Keegan Petersen, Ryan Rickelton, Lutho Sipamla, Glenton Stuurman, Kyle Verreynne (wk), Lizaad Williams, Khaya Zondo

Bangladesh squad: Mominul Haque (capt), Tamim Iqbal, Mahmudul Hasan Joy, Najmul Hossain Shanto, Mushfiqur Rahim, Shakib Al Hasan, Litton Das (wk), Yasir Ali, Taijul Islam, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Taskin Ahmed, Abu Jayed, Ebadot Hossain, Shoriful Islam, Shohidul Islam, Khaled Ahmed, Shadman Islam, Nurul Hasan

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