Dhaka Tribune Correspondent Ali Shahriyar Bappa reports from Bloemfontein
Top-order batting a concern
Top-order batting is a major concern for Bangladesh in the South Africa series as regular opener Tamim Iqbal is missing from the side due to thigh injury. The other two openers – Soumya Sarkar and Imrul Kayes – did not score enough runs in the tour and thus, Bangladesh are hurting at the moment. Soumya once again got out cheaply for three, even after getting a life on one, as the slip fielder dropped his catch. Imrul scored 27 runs but was unable to carry his innings, like the second and final Test match where he scored 26 and 32. It was a good batting track as Bangladesh took first guard. It was expected that both the openers will score big in order to gain some confidence but that did not happen. So opening still remains a concern for the Tigers.
Shakib gets some runs
All-rounder Shakib al Hasan came back to the squad after taking rest from the Test series. Bangladesh surely missed their star all-rounder in both the Tests as the Tigers suffered huge margin of losses without their key player. So all eyes were on Shakib in the practice match as the left-hander needed some runs ahead of the three-game ODI series against South Africa. Shakib scored a half-century and got out on 68 but the southpaw should have carried his innings as Bangladesh were bundled out for 255. With the ball, the left-hander had an off day as he bowled five overs without taking a wicket, conceding 30. But with some runs with the bat, Bangladesh will hope Shakib puts in some crucial performances in the ODIs.
Missing big-hitting during slog overs
Missing big-hitters in the late middle-order is one thing Bangladesh are lacking in the shorter formats for a long time now. And that lacking was witnessed again in the warm-up game at Mangaung Oval Thursday. Bangladesh were batting on 195 for the loss of five wickets after 35 overs. Shakib and No 7 batsman Sabbir Rahman, probably the two cleanest hitters in the Bangladesh batting line-up, were well set then. At least one of them should have carried the innings and stayed until 50 overs. But in the 36th over, Shakib got out and later Sabbir too was dismissed in the 42nd over as the Tigers were skittled out for 255. So from overs 35 to 48 Bangladesh scored 60 losing their remaining five wickets.
Low score on a batting pitch, yet again
Bangladesh batted poorly in the two Tests, despite getting batting wickets in Potchefstroom and Bloemfontein. But the Tigers batsmen were not able to take any advantage and batted poorly in all the four innings. The last three innings read 90, 147 and 172. Where Bangladesh batted horribly, South Africa scored plenty of runs with some big centuries. That same batting performance was seen at the practice match yet again. Bangladesh elected to bat and were all out for 255 against a relatively weak bowling attack. In reply, South Africa openers Aiden Markram and Matthew Breetzke batted with sheer dominance and after the 25-over mark added 144. Batting looked so easy on this wicket but Bangladesh managed to score 255. But really, the pitch looked like a 350-run wicket and the Tigers batsmen can only blame themselves for poor batting.