Bangladesh are on the cusp of history once again. In their last two one-day series’ that were held at home, they beat Pakistan 3-0, and India 2-1. Bangladesh had neither beaten India nor Pakistan in an ODI series, neither home nor away. Now, they are tied 1-1 as they head into the final match of the series against South Africa at Mirpur. Bangladesh have not beaten South Africa either in a one-day series. But, the manner in which they thrashed the Proteas in the second ODI on Sunday, they would be exceedingly confident of claiming an unprecedented hat-trick.
There has been a pattern to the first two games, with the teams bowling first cleaning up the opposition for under 200, and then chasing down the target with ease. But, there is no guarantee that it will be the case in the final one-dayer as well. With both sides playing for the series, the contest could be lot closer. Of the two teams, South Africa will be under greater pressure, as a loss in Bangladesh will be seen as an embarrassment, even though the hosts have beaten India and Pakistan in their last two home series’.
South Africa’s batting will be under pressure to deliver following their shocking bowling performance in the second match. The Proteas skipper on this tour, Hashim Amla, has been in exceedingly poor form, and hasn’t done anything of note in the first two games. He will need to rise to the occasion, and perform in the decider. And, if that happens, South Africa can hope of putting up a good show. The other senior batsmen in the team also need to stand up and deliver. Faf du Plessis scored 41 in the last game, but he needed to do more.
In fact, the entire batting outfit needs to show more accountability in the absence of AB de Villiers. Rilee Rossouw, David Miller and JP Duminy need to get among the runs. Among the bowlers, Kagiso Rabada was brilliant in the first game, and proved effective in the second as well. He now needs better support from his more experienced mates like Kyle Abbott, Chris Morris and Imran Tahir. Their bowling is their weak link in the absence of Dale Steyn.
Bangladesh, on the other hand, will need to continue their good work from Sunday. Mustafizur Rahman bowled brilliantly, continuing from where he left off against India. Nasir Hossain also stood out, getting key wickets at crucial junctures. Rubel Hossain has continued to be effective, just like he was in the World Cup. Among the batsmen, Soumya Sarkar played the match-winning knock that won him the man of the match. Mahmudullah also chipped in with a half-century, as Bangladesh raced to victory. They will go all out to clinch another victory, and extend their historic run.
-- By A Cricket Analyst