Proteas' World Cup hopes nose dive
LONDON – Former Springbok coach Kitch Christie often spoke about the high road and the low road in the build-up to the 1995 Rugby World Cup.
Beat Australia in the opening game and the Boks would have the comfort of the high road for the remainder of the tournament. Lose and all sorts of challenges lay ahead.
Yesterday, here in the south of London, the Proteas' path to 2019 World Cup glory nose dived.
The loss to hosts England in the opener was half expected. Losing to Bangladesh is a train smash.
South Africa's next two matches are against powerhouse India and a rejuvenated West Indies team. Both these matches are now of critical importance if Faf du Plessis's men aim to be more than just tourists here in the United Kingdom.
They will certainly need to raise their game, particularly in the field, if they wish to remain interested participants.
South Africa were simply listless for the first half of the match after Proteas captain Faf du Plessis won his second toss in a row and inserted the opposition.
The loss of Lungi Ngidi to a hamstring strain certainly didn't help proceedings, but the Asian nation had already taken a firm grip on proceedings by then.
Bangladesh's stalwarts Shakib-al-Hasan (75) and Mushfiqur Rahim (78) were certainly up for the challenge offered up the South African fast bowlers. They showed their experience by striking two classy half-centuries that powered Bangladesh to their record ODI total.
The duo maintained the momentum that was provided by the openers Tamim Iqbal and Soumyar Sakar (42 off 30 balls). Ngidi's absence was severely felt at the death though with Mahmudullah (44 not out) and Mossadek Hossain (26) piling on the misery in the last few overs. The pair added 66 off just 29 balls.
That late onslaught ultimately proved the difference between the teams.
With no South African batsmen fulfilling the responsibility of batting through the innings, with Du Plessis top-scoring with 62, there was just to much left for the middle-to-lower order to do.
South Africa had stayed close to the required rate for much of the innings through contributions from Aiden Markram (45), Rassie van der Dussen (41) and JP Duminy (45), but they will reflect on a run drought during the middle period when spinners Shakib and Mehidi Hasan combined for 2/94 from their allotted 20 overs.
With the South Africa's injury list growing rapidly with Ngidi now joining Hashim Amla and Dale Steyn on the sidelines, it certainly does not look promising for the Proteas as they move to the coastal town of Southampton this week.
The only consolation being that South Africa also lost to Bangladesh at the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean, but still managed to progress to the semi-finals.
These are the threads of hope Du Plessis and his team are now hanging on by.