South Africa 284 for 8 (Kallis 69, du Plessis 52, Amla 51, Rubel 3-56) beat Bangladesh 78 (Shakib 30, Peterson 4-12, Tsotsobe 3-14) by 206 runs
Bangladesh were not favourites to win their virtual pre-quarterfinal against the might of South Africa, especially after the visitors breezed away to 284, but it was the meek manner of their abject batting surrender that would have jarred even their most faithful fans. Eight overs in to the tall chase, and the heart of their batting line-up had been ripped out by Lonwabo Tsotsobe, causing the substantial crowd at the Shere Bangla Stadium to quickly start dwindling. They never recovered from those initial blows, and all they managed was to beat their lowest total of 58 achieved against West Indies earlier in the tournament by 20 runs, before being put out of their misery by Robin Peterson’s fourth wicket.
This was after South Africa came out blazing in the morning, and the solid base that the openers gave allowed Jacques Kallis and Faf du Plessis to consolidate and accelerate seamlessly, giving their spin-heavy attack a substantial cushion to stifle Bangladesh and bowl them to the top the group. That they did so with 206 runs to spare was a testimony to how the fight completely went out of Bangladesh, and also confirmed England’s qualification for the knockouts.
It was not that South Africa’s attack, minus Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, held a lot of alarms. Tsotsobe did get enough bounce off the slow wicket to trouble the batsmen, and also got it to cut in from a very tight line outside off stump. But it was more a case of poor shot selection by the Bangladesh batsmen under the pressure of a big chase in a must-win game in front of a large home crowd. The first four dismissals were demonstrations of the various ways of how not to play on a low and slow wicket.
Tamim Iqbal was too early into the pull off a short Tsotsobe delivery that was way outside off stump, and was caught behind off a healthy under-edge, as South Africa referred successfully after umpire Daryl Harper missed the deflection. Imrul Kayes shouldered arms to a full Tsotsobe delivery that cut back in to shatter the stumps. Graeme Smith had started with Johan Botha, and his suffocating lines had Junaid Siddique in absolute uncertainty, not sure whether to go back or forward, and he ended up being trapped in front by one that went straight on. Shahriar Nafees played on, driving in princely fashion from the crease to one that nipped back in slowly.
Bangladesh’s chase was only eight overs old, and already their dream had caved in at 21 for 4. Mushfiqur Rahim pottered around for some time before being snapped up one-handed by an alert Smith at slip off Peterson. Before his dismissal, Bangladesh managed seven runs in the bowling Powerplay, the lowest in the tournament, trumping Kenya who had made nine runs against Sri Lanka.
Amid all the anti-climax, Shakib Al Hasan displayed his class, straight-driving and pulling Tsotsobe, and caressing and slashing the spinners for boundaries. There were loud cheers as Bangladesh passed 58 but Shakib departed soon after as Bangladesh’s party rapidly came to a rude end. Peterson cleaned up the tail as Bangladesh lasted all of 28 overs to bring the curtain down on what was ultimately a chaotic campaign.
Bangladesh’s struggles stood out against the contrasting approaches of Hashim Amla and Graeme Smith, which had worked perfectly for South Africa at the top as the duo batted their way to a 98-run opening stand. It was fascinating to see how the openers went about tackling the spinners in their different styles. While Amla allowed the ball to come to him, and played it as late as possible off the back foot, Smith was very eager to push forward and use his feet frequently in an attempt to meet the ball early.
Amla carried on in the nonchalant fashion that has made him the world’s most prolific one-day batsman of late. Anything marginally short was quickly dispatched, even against the turn. Smith was uncertain to start with, but Bangladesh helped him settle the nerves with a couple of freebies on leg stump that he happily put away past short fine leg.
It was only after the drinks break that the openers lost their cool and their wickets. JP Duminy followed and at 141 for 3 with 20 overs to go, Bangladesh were in it. But Kallis and du Plessis started milking the singles calmly. Only four boundaries were hit in the next 12 overs but South Africa still scored at five an over. The duo added 82 risk-free runs inside 15 overs as the Bangladesh attack struggled for penetration.
Peterson did not let South Africa miss the seventh batsman they had left out, clattering 22 in nine deliveries as 83 came off the last eight overs. Even though wickets tumbled late, there was enough spunk in Peterson and Botha to lift South Africa to 284. It turned out to be much more than sufficient for a Bangladesh outfit that finally lost the spark that had made it come back strongly twice in the tournament after crushing losses to West Indies and India, with wins over England, Ireland, and Netherlands.
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