Bangladesh will be banking on some big runs from their captain Musfiqur Rahim (R) and Mahmudullah (L) as they look to get a solitary win over the Proteas in their tour. Photo: BackPagePix

JOHANNESBURG – It’s like the opening bars to that famous tune by Eminem: Bangladesh’s cricketers have one last shot, one opportunity, to get, well, not everything they ever wanted, but something – so can they capture it, or let it slip?

Based on the last five weeks, it’ll probably slip through their grasp again in Potchefstroom on Sunday afternoon (2.30pm start).

Bangladesh have faced South Africa in six matches across three formats and been belted every time – the margins between the teams ranging from 333 runs in the first Test to 200 runs in the last One-Day International.

They even lost a 50-over tour match to an Invitation side who had a teenager with less than 10 senior games to his name in their ranks.

The fact that they lost by just 20 runs in the first T20 International in Bloemfontein last Thursday is being held up as a sign that they are still willing to fight for that first win on this tour.

Indeed, it was a spirited display against a South African side missing many ‘regulars’ but, it was hardly earth shattering. However, when you’ve been smashed up and down the country like they have, you’ll take anything.

The fact is Bangladesh arrived in South Africa with high expectations; they wanted to prove themselves on this tour having already established their strength on home-soil with wins over England and Australia.

Beating Sri Lanka in a Test away from home earlier this year also showed that they could perform on their travels, albeit in that case it wasn’t in conditions in which they were unfamiliar.

And they put in the preparations ahead of this trip, but when they got here they saw demons.

In Potchefstroom and Bloemfontein, the pitches were actually well suited to them, but they had prepared for fast and bouncy tracks, and thought and played like that was what they got in the Tests, when it was exactly the opposite.

Scarred by those defeats, they folded in the ODIs, despite the presence of their best player Shakib Al-Hasan, who asked to be left out of the Test series to rest.

Schisms have opened up between the players and the administrators, and now questions have been asked of their Sri Lankan coach Chandika Hathurusingha.

So the last match is a significant one for them, because a win does give them something to take away from the tour – a drawn T20 series by no means deflects from what else has gone before, but it’s better than nothing.

On the other hand, the Proteas want to leave them with nothing.

“We are looking to do a clean sweep in all the formats,” Farhaan Behardien stated on Saturday.

Perhaps the hosts weren’t as clinically efficient as they wanted to be in Bloemfontein, especially with the ball, but it was a young and inexperienced international attack, so a bit of wiggle room is allowed.

If they stick to their policy of providing opportunities for all, the likes of Dwaine Pretorius, Tabraiz Shamsi and Mangaliso Mosehle may get a run today, with Quinton de Kock due a break after playing in all the previous matches against Bangladesh on this tour.

The flight back to Dhaka from Joburg lasts 14 hours, after which there will be a major inquest from the Bangladesh cricket authorities into how everything went wrong for the Tigers on this tour.

Sunday represents one last shot to take a little bit away from this tour, and ease some of the tension when that inquest starts. 


Sunday Independent

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