JOHANNESBURG - While Imran Tahir did his best to ramp up Bangladesh’s credentials as a One-Day side, in Bloemfontein the tourists produced a performance that suggested the scarring from the pounding they’d taken in two Tests were very far from healed.
As the Proteas completed their first training session in Kimberley on Thursday, about two hours down the N8, Bangladesh’s nightmare tour continued as they were thumped by an Invitation XI, for whom a teenager, with just nine senior matches to his name, was the star.
Matthew Breetzke, still three weeks shy of his 19th birthday, scored 71 (100b, 9x4) as part of a 147-run opening stand with Aiden Markram, who scored 82 (68b, 8x4, 1x6) as the Invitation side, captained by JP Duminy, chased down a target of 256, with 21 balls to spare, losing just four wickets in the process.
Breetzke, who hails from the Eastern Cape, was one of the stand out players in the SA Under-19 side that lost a five-match series to its West Indies counterparts in July, scoring two centuries and a half-century.
Having suffered defeats by 333 runs and an innings and 254 runs in the Test matches, Bangladesh will be seeking salvation in the ODIs, the first of which will be played in Kimberley on Sunday.
“They are not an easy team,” Tahir said by way of showing them respect. "They proved that by qualifying for the semi-finals in the Champions Trophy.”
Indeed they did, although they were helped significantly by rain washing away half of their one group match against Australia, following which they pulled off a stunning five-wicket win against New Zealand, inspired by centuries from Shakib Al-Hasan and Mahmadullah, to qualify for the final four.
Although Shakib is back for the ODIs after opting out of the Test series here, he will have to produce something inspirational to drag his side out of the mire.
Their captain Mushfiqur Rahim cut a disconsolate figure during the Bloemfontein Test, questioning his own ability to inspire his men.
Shakib, as the best player Bangladesh has ever produced, has also come in for criticism for not playing the Tests, and the ODIs will provide an opportunity for him to silence his many critics.
South Africa will use the series as part of the building blocks ahead of the 2019 World Cup with new coach Ottis Gibson saying he and the national selectors want to give as many players as possible a chance in the ODI side in the next year before settling on a group for the World Cup.
Although he’ll be 40 when that tournament rolls around, Tahir still believes he can continue to perform at the highest level.
“I’d love to be at the World Cup, but I know I will have to keeping doing my best and work hard on my fitness.”
SA ODI squad: Faf du Plessis (capt), Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Imran Tahir, David Miller, Wayne Parnell, Dane Paterson, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada