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B'desh finally show the will to fight

The South Africans badly needed some batting practice and when Greame Smith won the toss, he asked his batters to get cracking.

india Updated: Apr 15, 2003 11:26 IST
Saibal Bose
Saibal Bose

The South Africans badly needed some batting practice on the Bangabandhu Stadium track and when skipper Greame Smith won the toss, he understandably asked his batters to get cracking.

That the batsmen did their job was evident as South Africa finished at 294 for three. However, what Smith had not bargained for was a Bangladesh resistance or his opening bowlers' inconsistency.

After their mediocre show in the past year, no one had expected Bangladesh to have the South Africans worried, albeit briefly - not even the sparse holiday crowd, which had gathered after a morning of revelry on the Bengali New Year's Day.

Till the 20th over at least, it appeared that the chase was very much on. However, Bangladesh lost the script after that. Their innings ended at 211 in the last over, leaving South Africa with an 83-run win. However, the hosts should have the satisfaction that they crossed the 200-mark after 16 matches.

When Bangladesh batted young Mohammad Ashraful impressed with his confident pulls, delectable cuts and gentle nudges. It was nice to see a Bangladesh batsman smiling for a change. That Ashraful has talent became apparent after his Test century on debut against Sri Lanka. On Monday, he was helped by an extremely slow pitch and some erratic South African bowling.

Makhaya Ntini was the most erratic, straying in line as well as length. Smith went into a huddle with Shaun Pollock and even used his most experienced bowler as first change, but Ashraful flourished.

The other end was, however, always suspect and the teen-aged opener had too much responsibility to shoulder. He was good for his 52 before being foxed by Paul Adams. Once he departed, there was nothing left in the match. Pollock took four wickets and Bangladesh skipper Khaled Mahmud's entertaining cameo just delayed the proceedings.

Earlier, Smith and Herschelle Gibbs led the South African batting charge with a 107-run opening wicket stand, with both the batsmen scoring at run-a-ball. However, in the end the acceleration wasn't quite as it should have been.

At the 40-over stage, South Africa were 223 for three and looked good for 320. They would be a little disappointed with their total. All the batsmen helped themselves to runs though, Gibbs, Dippenaar and McKenzie getting their fifties.

However, the South African process of rebuilding needs a plan to tackle spinners. In the two matches that they have played so far, they have not been too impressive against the turning ball.


First Published: Apr 14, 2003 14:01 IST