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Misjudgment of pitch or defensive approach?

  • Published at 10:48 pm September 28th, 2017
  • Last updated at 10:51 pm September 28th, 2017
Misjudgment of pitch or defensive approach?
South Africa exhibited a commanding display of batting on day one of their first Test match against Bangladesh at Senwes Park Thursday, posting 298 runs for the loss of one wicket in 90 overs at stumps. But the early morning decision came as a little bit of surprise when Bangladesh Test skipper Mushfiqur Rahim elected to bowl after winning the toss. The weather was partly cloudy with a cool breeze. The pitch looked white and dry from the naked eye. The South African pitches generally appear more greenish but the wicket here in Potchefstroom, hosting a Test for the first time in 15 years, seemed good for batting. But in the end, Mushfiq opted to bowl first. Such a decision of fielding first also surprised the South Africa camp as Proteas captain Faf du Plessis expressed astonishment during the toss and said the host would have batted first anyway if they had won the toss.

Watch: Game on for Bangladesh vs SA first Test

And so, the Tigers could not take advantage of winning the toss as Mushfiq perhaps misread the pitch. However, in the morning session, the Bangladesh bowlers did not bowl any wicket-taking deliveries anyway. Perhaps more surprisingly, Mushfiq brought on off-spinner Mehedi Hasan Miraz in just the sixth over of the day. That points to a lack of faith in your fast bowlers, isn’t it? Paceman Shafiul Islam bowled only two overs in the first half an hour of the Test and was then removed for a spinner. When you extract just five overs from your pacers at the start of day one on a South African pitch and bring on a spinner in the sixth over, then why the decision to bowl first? However, the decision of bowling first backfired as Bangladesh suffered throughout the whole day. The South Africa batsmen batted with confidence and authority and there was not that much bite and aggression from any Bangladesh bowler. There was a lot of hype before the tour regarding the fast and bouncy tracks in South Africa and how this tour could prove to be the most difficult for the Bangladesh batsmen. Perhaps that fear of facing the Proteas pace attack in the morning session of day one forced the Bangladesh team management to bowl first on a relatively good batting track. South Africa are playing under a new coach in Ottis Gibson and Test captain Du Plessis. The team are slightly unsettled at the moment as they are missing two of their crucial fast bowlers in the form of Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander. All-rounders Wayne Parnell and Chris Morris were also unavailable due to injury. So no Steyn, no Philander, no Morris and no Parnell in the Proteas pace attack. Would you still field first after winning the toss? South Africa batmen were not able to score big in their latest Test series loss against England this year. Du Plessis hoped that the Proteas batsmen will be looking for a fresh start to the summer and fire from all cylinders in the Bangladesh series. And that’s just what happened as the Tigers bowlers made it easy for them to start the series on a confident note. The first wicket fell in the 55th over but it was more a case of the batsman’s error in judgment than the bowler deserving any credit.

Also read: Best time to beat South Africa at their home, says Hathurusingha

It was an unfortunate run out for debutant Aiden Markram, who fell just three short of a well deserved maiden Test hundred. Bangladesh head coach Chandika Hathurusingha said in the pre-Test press conference that this is the best time to beat South Africa in their backyard as they are dealing with several injures. But did the decision to field first on a batting track justify that statement? Only time will tell but things are not looking bright at the moment. Be it misreading the pitch or defensive approach, Bangladesh have certainly made a cautious start to the tour.