JOHANNESBURG - This was a dispiriting series defeat for Bangladesh, undoing three years of reputation building and leaving their poor captain Mushfiqur Rahim in despair.
They got conditions in Potchefstroom and at Mangaung Oval that were as close as anything to what they are used to in Mirpur and Chittagong. They were up against an SA team trying to bed-in a new opening batsman and missing their two new-ball bowlers and then lost another ace in their attack when Morne Morkel tore an abdominal muscle.
They even won the toss in both Tests. And yet Bangladesh still failed; undone by the inability of their captain to read conditions properly, their bowlers’ incompetence and their batsmen’s fear.
Faf du Plessis admitted afterwards that his team had expected more from Bangladesh.
“The last year or two, you could see they were a high-quality Test team. I expected a bigger fight, I expected them, not to win the series, but that there would be sessions in the game, where we would have to absorb a lot of pressure because they do have the skill in their team,” said Du Plessis.
However, Rahim's players simply couldn’t raise themselves. The young off-spinner Mehidy Hasan, so impressive at home, was toothless on a slow pitch at Senwes Park. The seamers, but for a brief period on the first day when they employed the short ball and picked up three South African wickets, were ineffective. The batting was mostly poor.
“There was not a lot of pace and movement in these wickets. But our bowlers, I felt, were good enough to bowl more consistently. I wasn’t worried about the outcome but I want to see them do the process right,” said Rahim.
For SA, this series win has restored confidence. They have been able to leave the painful experiences of England behind them and can look forward to a brighter summer, which will feature marquee series against India and Australia.
With six centuries in this series and three 200-run plus partnerships, the batsmen will have greater self-belief after what has been a difficult 12 months.
In the absence of Dale Steyn, Morkel and Vernon Philander, the selection net was cast wider to find bowlers, but Du Plessis, who said he was really impressed with Olivier yesterday, was largely pleased.
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“There is a difference with our top four seamers; they are of a quality that is world class," Du Plessis said. “If you judge the guys (who played the second Test) according to them then there’s a gap and fairly so.
"It’s important that we make these guys better, so that not just one but two or three of these bowlers can step into the team (if needed). Hopefully those (senior) guys will be fit to play most of the games, but these guys who played the last two Tests will be looked at for the future, so it’s important for them to see that there is still work to do.”
Andile Phehlukwayo impressed on Sunday with his control and clear thinking and was deserving of his three wickets while Olivier’s 10-over spell from the Loch Logan End was relentless, an indication - said Du Plessis - of how quickly he was learning at Test level.
“We appreciate that India and Australia will be a lot tougher. We won’t get too far ahead of ourselves thinking we are the finished article. We still have a lot of work to do to try and be the team we want to be,” said Du Plessis.