The tone for the three-match One-Day series between South Africa and Bangladesh will be set in Kimberley on Sunday morning and it will be dependent on the mood of the tourists.
If they are still feeling sorry for themselves as was the case after the defeat in the second Test in Bloemfontein, then another thrashing is on the cards for the Tigers, not just Sunday, but in the remaining two matches also.
Shakib Al-Hasan, arguably Bangladesh’s greatest player has finally arrived after being granted time off, and has sought to create a more positive mindset amongst his colleagues. “The last time South Africa went to Bangladesh they lost in the ODI series; no one expected them to lose, but it’s not like everything fell apart for them,” said Shakib.
True, Bangladesh were very good in that series two years ago, but it was one played in the middle of the South Africans experiencing something of an existential crisis in the wake of their dramatic exit at the World Cup a few months earlier.
On this tour, judging by their captain Mushfiqur Rahim’s mood in Bloemfontein last week, the Bangladeshis too seem to be questioning their reasons for playing. They were thrashed in the Tests, and any chance at restoring some confidence evaporated in a One-Day warm-up match in Bloemfontein on Thursday, which they lost to an Invitational team by six wickets.
Shakib says that match does not count for anything however: “The important thing is scoring in the main match. What happens in the practice match is not important."
Again, that point is valid, but Bangladesh also need a lift in the spirits so any kind of win will be good for them. Whether they can do so against a South African side that is building for the future is doubtful.
There is a lot for the Proteas to prove in the One-Day format too, particularly on an individual basis. Faf du Plessis outlined once again yesterday the forward thinking that’s being applied to selection, and there is no guarantee that those players who impress in this series will even get a chance again when the One-Day team reconvenes against India at the end of January.
“We want to look at a group of 20-plus players, and this is a great opportunity for some new guys."
South Africa (from): 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
Bangladesh (from): Soumya Sarkar, Liton Das, Imrul Kayes, Mushfiqur Rahim,Shakib Al Hasan, Mahmudullah, Sabbir Rahman, Mashrafe Mortaza (capt), Mohammad Saifuddin, Rubel Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman, Mominul Haque, Tamim Iqbal, Taskin Ahmed, Mohammed Saifuddin
TV: SuperSport 2 and SABC 3, 10am