Wednesday 7, June 2023

Can Tigers rediscover the winning formula?

A first-ever series win on South African soil will surely be in the back of the minds of the Bangladesh team, but it will be vital for the Tigers' think-tank to ensure a relaxed atmosphere in the dressing room while ticking as many boxes as possible in the decisive third and final ODI at Centurion today.

Bangladesh have seen both sides of the coin in the first two games as Tamim Iqbal and his troops clinched a maiden win in South Africa courtesy of a collective approach in the first ODI before being ruthlessly outplayed by the hosts in the second game.

South Africa are expected to once again bank on their strengths and extract pace and bounce from the surface as they did at the Wanderers, when Kagiso Rabada led from the front with his second five-wicket haul to restrict Bangladesh on 194 for nine. The hosts went on to level the series by chasing the target with seven wickets and 12.4 overs to spare, riding on a blistering fifty by Quinton de Kock.

The Proteas will be looking to replicate that performance from the second game by jolting the Tigers' batters early on. The ploy worked in the second ODI as Rabada knocked off Bangladesh's top-order, reducing the Tigers to 36 for 5 inside 13 overs. The likes of Rabada and Lungi Ngidi will look to hit the deck hard and attempt to get that extra bit of bounce to create doubt.

On the other hand, it will not be easy for Bangladesh to repeat their performance from the first game, when Tamim and Liton Das negotiated the initial pace and bounce by opting for an initally conservative approach. Keeping wickets intact and seeing out the first 10 overs will be key for Bangladesh and a stable start could again lay the foundation.

It may have initially looked like a defensive approach after Bangladesh added just 33 runs in the first 10 overs of the first ODI, but as the game progressed, the 95-run opening stand between Tamim and Liton proved to be pivotal. The middle-order went on to cash in on that steady start as Shakib Al Hasan and Yasir Ali added 115 runs for the fifth wicket. Bangladesh would add another 91 runs in the last 10 overs to post a huge total of 314 for seven.

Posting ample runs on the board can also embolden the bowling unit, as evidenced by the first game, when the Bangladesh pace attack featuring the likes of Taskin Ahmed, Shoriful Islam and Mustafizur Rahman showed what they were capable of. While a collective approach remains key if the Tigers are to re-write history, there is an individual named Shakib who can turn things around single-handedly with his charisma.

The star all-rounder is going through a family health crisis and even considered returning home ahead of the third ODI to stay beside his family members, who are currently in hospital. But eventually deciding to stay back showed his determination and hunger to do well.


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