Dhaka Tribune Correspondent Ali Shahriyar Bappa reports from East London
Injury-hit Bangladesh will play their third and final ODI of the series against host South Africa at Buffalo Park Sunday.
The match begins at 10am local time, 2pm Bangladesh standard time, and GTV and Maasranga TV will telecast it live.
Bangladesh are missing two key players in their ODI set-up as opener Tamim Iqbal has been ruled out from the rest of the tour. Bangladesh are already missing left-arm pacer Mustafizur Rahman as he twisted his ankle just before the first ODI at De Beers Diamond Oval in Kimberley Sunday.
Also read: Mominul replaces injured Tamim in T20I squad
The Tigers camp is expecting the paceman to become fit for the two-game T20I series. But reality is that there is no chance for him to be fit and he will return to Bangladesh after the South Africa ODIs.
So missing two crucial players – one at the top of the batting order and another in the bowling attack – is a major blow for the Tigers as they have struggled throughout the tour.
But Tigers ODI captain Mashrafe bin Mortaza said the team will give their 100%, although they are missing key players like Tamim and Mustafizur.
“[Sunday] is a new day, new match. We can’t win the series but if we play well in the last match, it will be good for us. We are taking things positively,” said Mashrafe during the pre-match press conference Saturday.
“It is tough to make the best team selection when you have two of your best players missing. You have to give the rest a lot of confidence. When the team doesn’t do well, there’s a lot of all-round pressure. But these things are quite normal these days. It is also important to forget about what is being said, and focus on the cricket,” he added.
Confident South Africa have clinched the series and will rest some key players like opener Hashim Amla in order to give chance to the newcomers. But the intensity of the game will be high and they are not taking Bangladesh lightly.
“We’ve had two amazing games, but that does not take away from the goal, which is to go out there and put in a solid performance and walk away 3-0. Yeah, the field looks good. The pitch looks a decent one for East London, which is generally low and slow. We need to make sure that we look after our game plans in order to face what the conditions have in store,” said Proteas middle order batsman JP Duminy.
Top-order batsman Aiden Markram has been called up in place of Amla. In three Test match innings’ against the Tigers, Amla scored 137, 28 and 132 while in the two ODIs he scored 110 and 85. But Matkram is also in terrific form against the Tigers as he scored 97, 15 and143 in three innings in the Test series and played a brilliant 62-ball 82 in the practice match before the ODI series.
The toss can prove to be tricky here as the venue is the shortest among other venues in South Africa and the surface is relatively low and slow.
The average first innings total here is 216 and the average innings total is 196. A total of 21 ODIs have been played at Buffalo Park. Among them nine games have been won by the team batting first and the remaining 12 have been won by the side batting second.