POTCHEFSTROOM - South Africa face Bangadesh on Thursday at Senwes Park in the first of two Tests. Independent Media cricket writer Stuart Hess has looked at the four dangermen who could trouble the Proteas.
The animated and gutsy wicket-keeper/batsman has been - along with Shakib Al Hasan - at the forefront of Bangladesh’s success in recent years. He bellows from behind the stumps, always offering encouragement - and occasionally a stern word - for his young team.
But he backs up those words with deeds and has scored over 600 runs this year with hundreds in New Zealand and India. Typically, for a man of his stature, he is strong square of the wicket, while his wicket-keeping is for the most part neat.
The stylish left-hand opener has lacked consistency, but remains an important cog in the Bangladeshi wheel. He has scored just under 500 runs this year, but will be miffed that he has not turned one of his five half-centuries into something more substantial.
Nevertheless a second innings 82 against Sri Lanka helped propel his team to a series-tying win in March, while he made half-centuries in both innings’ of Bangladesh’s historic triumph over Australia last month. South Africa’s bowlers will be wary of providing too much width, while if they over pitch they’ll be greeted by one of the best looking straight drives in the game.
The soon to be 20-year-old off-spinner burst onto the scene a year ago when he picked up 19 wickets against England. There’s nothing menacing about his approach, but he does get through his action with a snap, and gives the ball a proper rip. He’ll be desperate to prove himself outside of the comforts of home having struggled in New Zealand and India early in the year. He's picked up 24 wickets in 2017, second only to Shakib’s 29.
The left-arm seamer will have the opportunity to shine in South Africa, rather than act as a new ball support bowler like he does at home. There his job is merely to knock off the shine so that the spinners can get to work, in SA, he’ll be expected to strike. How that mindset change affects him will be an important aspect for the tourists if they are to cause an upset. His 13 wickets this year have come at an average of 26.23.