South Africa remain steadfast they will not allow the pressures of a World Cup to divert them from processes to attain their ultimate goal, but they do have a few pressing concerns heading into today’s second clash with Bangladesh at The Oval.
Hashim Amla was not present at training yesterday. The veteran opener stayed back at the hotel where team doctor Mohammed Moosajee was monitoring his progress after the Jofra Archer-induced head blow in Thursday’s opener.
Dale Steyn is also still busy with his rehabilitation process and will most likely only be seen in action when the Proteas move on to the sea port of Southampton next week.
A final decision will be made on Amla’s fitness this morning prior to the toss, which could potentially leave South Africa without 300 ODI’s worth of experience.
Although David Miller is likely to shore this up with 120 matches of his own after missing the England defeat, South Africa are going to need their senior players to lead the way in what is a potential banana skin encounter.
Not only has Bangladesh ditched their “Toothless Tigers” moniker ages ago – in fact they reached the Champions Trophy semi-finals here two years ago – it is a worn surface that will greet the teams today.
Imran Tahir may claim “there was no spin on the pitch I bowled” last Thursday, it was unusually slow for The Oval. It definitely nullified the Proteas pace attack’s ability to hit the seam and move the ball off a length, with Lungi Ngidi, Kagiso Rabada, Dwaine Pretorius and Andile Phehlukwayo reverting primarily to off-cutters.
With the Mercury levels rising appreciably over the past two days, and another south London scorcher expected today, it would have slowed down further.
South Africa’s batting unit certainly struggled to adapt to the conditions three days ago, and they could face an even sterner test of their credentials against a Bangladesh attack that consists of five variations of the slow poison.
“I think we rushed a bit,” Tahir said of the Proteas batsmen. “I think we were on top of the game most of the time, but we just didn't have wickets in hand. That was the learning we need to do when we go into the next game. I'm pretty sure the batsmen are going to realise that and they are going to come back strongly.”
Mashrafe Mortaza’s team are also unlikely to be caught with their pants down the way England were when Tahir surprisingly bowled the first over of the World Cup.
Seasoned opener Tamim Iqbal may be struggling with a hand injury that could keep him on the sidelines today, Bangladesh still have supreme players of spin like Mahmudullah, Shakib-al-Hasan and Test captain Mushfiqur Rahim.
“Everyone knows they obviously grew up in conditions where they play spin really well, and you know, they can be very dangerous on the day,” Tahir said. “It's going to be a good challenge, just like any other game, but from our side, we are fully prepared and hopefully we will have a good day as a team.”
Tahir, arguably more than any other, needs the Proteas to have a “good day”. Besides the obvious task of getting South Africa’s World Cup campaign back on track, the charismatic leg-spinner will be celebrating his 100th cap in the Proteas green.
It’s a phenomenal achievement for the 40-year-old that arrived on South African shores searching for love, but ended up transforming his adopted country’s spin culture.
“If I look back, I'm really proud of myself, I have to be honest. I'm the guy who come through a lot of hard patches, seen a lot of hardships and lost my parents without seeing me play international cricket,” Tahir said.
“I played my first game in 2011 World Cup and it's been an amazing journey. I just hope as a team we have a great World Cup, like how we thought before we came to England to participate in this World Cup.”
Faf du Plessis (capt), Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock (wk), JP Duminy, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Chris Morris, Lungi Ngidi, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Dale Steyn, Imran Tahir, Rassie van der Dussen.
Mashrafe Mortaza (capt), Abu Jayed, Liton Das (wk), Mahmudullah, Mehidy Hasan, Mohammad Mithun (wk), Mohammad Saifuddin, Mosaddek Hossain, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Mustafizur Rahman, Rubel Hossain, Sabbir Rahman, Shakib Al Hasan, Soumya Sarkar, Tamim Iqbal.@ZaahierAdams